Pope Francis has today begged the international community to act “quickly and decisively” to put an end to the “tragedies” of migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.

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“I reiterate my sincere appeal to the international community to act quickly and decisively to prevent the repetition of these tragedies and to guarantee the safety and dignity of all.

“I invite you to pray with me for the victims and their families and from the heart ask: Father, Why?”, the Pope said his recitation Sunday of the Angelus prayer from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace.

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Francis’ appeal comes days after what UN refugee commission head Filippo Grandi called the “worst Mediterranean tragedy this year” claimed the lives of at least 110 migrants in a shipwreck off Libya.

In response to that tragedy, Church aid arm Caritas – along with more than 100 other social organisations – pleaded with politicians “to stop the criminalisation of solidarity with migrants in Europe”.

“Rescue operations at sea would no longer be necessary if governments opened legal pathways of entering the EU, such as humanitarian channels, evacuation plans from Libya and countries at war”, explained Camillo Ripamonti, director of Centro Astalli, the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe base in Rome.

“It is necessary for Europe to confront the phenomenon of immigration as a whole, opening new pathways to regular immigration”, added the Community of Sant’Egidio, a group on the frontlines of the Church’s response to the migrant crisis.

Sant’Egidio was calling on new EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen to open humanitarian corridors to Europe for refugees.

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In recent days, too, Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, the archbishop of Agrigento in Italy, warned “doors are closing” in Europe to migrants and refugees.

“Especially doors of hearts. That’s the biggest concern”, the cardinal added.

For its part, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) called on European governments last week “to respect international law obligations with regards to anyone looking for international protection in their territories”.

With each refugee death in the Mediterranean, “the soul of Europe dies a little bit more”, lamented Dr Torsten Moritz, General Secretary of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME).


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.