Pope Francis offered a Mass ijn St Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Monday (8th July) commemorating his visit to Lampedusa six years ago, praying for all migrants who have either died or been abused along their route.
“On this sixth anniversary of the visit to Lampedusa, my thoughts go out to those ‘least ones’ who daily cry out to the Lord, asking to be freed from the evils that afflict them,”
“These least ones are abandoned and cheated into dying in the desert; these least ones are tortured, abused and violated in detention camps; these least ones face the waves of an unforgiving sea; these least ones are left in reception camps too long for them to be called temporary,”
The Italian island of Lampedusa, the southernmost point of Italy, is a key destination for migrants, mostly from Libya, wishing to enter Europe.
Pope Francis visited the island in 2013 to commemorate the thousands of people who had lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean, often in flimsy, overcrowded boats.
Since then, immigration has emerged as one of the most explosive issues in European politics, with many EU countries now led by populist leaders pushing a hardline anti-immigrant stance.
Highlighting how migrants today frequently fall into the category of “the least,” the Pope lamented that the “existential peripheries” of many large cities are filled with people who have been “thrown away, marginalized, oppressed, discriminated against, abused, exploited, abandoned, poor and suffering.”
Pointing to the Beatitudes, Pope Francis said they are a call for each Christian to comfort the poor and afflicted, offering them mercy and quenching their hunger and thirst while showing them the way to heaven.
“They are persons; these are not mere social or migrant issues… this is not just about migrants,”
but it is a human issue and a call to attend to
“all those rejected by today’s globalized society.”
“The weakest and most vulnerable must be helped,”
Watch our refugee animation here.
Find out more about the Lampedusa Cross and how CAFOD is responding to the refugee crisis.