Pope Francis: Migrants are dying at sea because of injustice

Lifejacket crucified

Lifejacket crucified

Source: Vatican News

Yesterday, Pope Francis met 33 refugees who had arrived through a humanitarian corridor, from the Greek island of Lesbos. During the meeting he unveiled a cross in the Vatican's Belvedere Courtyard to remember all migrants and refugees who are forced to make perilous journeys in search of a better life.

The Pope spoke about two life jackets. The first one was given to him a few years ago by a group of rescuers. It had been worn by a girl who drowned in the Mediterranean.

The second one, delivered to Pope Francis by another group of rescuers just a few days ago, belonged to a migrant who was lost at sea last July. No one knows who he was or where he came from.

The Pope told the refugees that he had donated the first life jacket to the two undersecretaries from the Migrants and Refugees Section, at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, telling them 'This is your mission'.

Pope Francis said he wanted it "to mean the inescapable commitment of the Church to save the lives of migrants, so that then we could welcome, protect, promote and integrate them."

He stressed that it was injustice that forced many migrants to leave their lands, and to suffer abuse and torture in detention camps. "It is injustice that rejects them and causes them to die at sea," he said.

The Holy Father said: "In the Christian tradition, the cross is a symbol of suffering and sacrifice, but also of redemption and salvation. Unveiling, what he called, a "crucified" life jacket on a transparent resin cross, Pope Francis said he decided to do this, "to remind us that we must keep our eyes open ... keep our hearts open ... to remind everyone of the indispensable commitment to save every human life, a moral duty that unites believers and non-believers."

"How can we fail to hear the desperate cry of so many brothers and sisters who prefer to face a stormy sea rather than die slowly in Libyan detention camps, places of torture and ignoble slavery?"the Pope asked. "How can we remain indifferent to the abuses and violence of which they are innocent victims, leaving them at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers? How can we "pass on," like the priest and the Levite of the parable of the Good Samaritan, making ourselves responsible for their death" Our ignorance is a sin," he said.

Pope Francis went on to say that it is not by blocking the rescue ships that the problem is solved. "Serious efforts must be made to empty the detention camps in Libya, evaluating and implementing all possible solutions," he said. "We must denounce and prosecute traffickers who exploit and abuse migrants," the Pope continued. "Economic interests must be put aside in order to focus on the person, each person, whose life and dignity are precious in the eyes of God." The Pope concluded: "we must help and save, because we are all responsible for the life of our neighbour, and the Lord will ask us to account for this at the moment of judgment."

Following the Pope's discourse the cross was carried by two of the refugees where it was blessed and hung on a wall in of memory all migrants and refugees who are forced to make perilous journeys in search of a better life.

Tags: Lesbos, Refugees, Pope Francis, Cross, Migrants

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