Skip to comments.To die of hope - Pope Francis commemorates migrant dead at Lampedusa
Posted on 07/08/2013 6:08:42 AM PDT by NYer
One of the first things he did upon his arrival on the Island of Lampedusa, Pope Francis laid a wreath in the waters in memory of the tens of thousands of migrants who have died trying to reach Europe in unsafe and overcrowded boats.
Most of them have no names. We do not know their personal stories, their hopes and certainly not their faces. But almost 20.000 people are thought to have died during their journey of hope, across the Mediterranean sea, in the past 25 years.
The migrants are all illegal so of course there are no official figures available. But Italian organizations who deal with the issue of migration estimate that over 19,000 migrants have met with their death whilst crossing the Mediterranean.
They are men, women and children, fleeing hunger, war, persecution and poverty. Their desperation is such that they risked their lives in search of hope for a better future in Europe.
Last year Italy registered 13,245 landings. Almost 5,000 were registered in the first months of 2013. News of more, almost daily landings on the Island of Lampedusa, also speaks of the many who didnt make it in dilapidated and overloaded boats.
Many of the refugees originally come from sub-Saharan Africa, and would have made the long overland journey to north Africa on foot or by bus, to find work.
Each year on June 20, to coincide with the World Day for Refugees, a prayer vigil takes place in Rome for all the refugees who have lost their lives trying to get into Europe.
The evening prayer vigil at the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere is organised by the Community of Sant'Egidio in collaboration with other associations who care for migrants.
The vigil is entitled To die of hope and is generally lead by the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.
Vatican Radios Linda Bordoni spoke to St. Egidio's Cecilia Pani about the prayer vigil and about the scenario behind it...
Cecilia explains that St. Egidio has been collecting news about the people who have died, mainly in the Mediterranean Sea because "we were struck about so many people dying, but no one knew their names or their stories". The newspapers, she says, carry numbers and statistics conveying the idea that "some sort of invasion of Italy is taking place. That's why we started to collect names and stories. On this occasion we remember the people who disappeared".
These people are men, women, children - even babies - entire families have disappeared in the waters, coming from all over the world.
Cecilia says these are people who fled their countries, many of them wanting to ask for asylum, most of them fleeing dire economic situations. She remembers that Pope Paul VIth called them "economic refugees" - people escaping not only because of political problems but because their land gave them no possibility to live.
Cecilia says the ones who manage to reach our countries are the strongest. "You need money, courage, strength and good health to undertake this trip".
These people, she points out, allow us to open our mentality and open our eyes on the future of the world. Our future in Europe is with other people, she says, in particular with people from Africa. "The future of Europe is with Africa" - and she refers to the global aging of the European population and the need we have of young people to work. And she speaks of cultural awareness, "of course Europe is a continent with a long history, but in the globalised world we can only develop if we open our borders".
Cecilia says these people are aware of the dangers they are about to face when they undertake their journey of hope. Many of them travel for months by all sorts of means.
She remembers the tragic fate of 2 young boys from Guinea Conacrì in 1999 who hid in the belly of an aeroplane in the attempt to reach Europe to study. Their bodies were discovered in Brussels many days later...
She says we can do much to avoid this kind of tragedy. But also, she says "there is place for these people: we need them". We must not be afraid of "invasions", we must help them cross the borders in a safe way "because the danger is not for us Europeans, it is for them - for their lives...".
Pope Francis celebrated mass on the tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Monday to commemorate thousands of migrants who have died crossing the sea from North Africa, underlining his drive to put the poor at the heart of his papacy.
Yeah. Stop offering a free social safety net. Government incentives kill.
Why commemorate the dead? Here was an opportunity to condemn the governments that produced these desperate people
Because they were beloved children of God.
If Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria weren’t such basket-cases, these poeple wouldn’t be risking the crossing. Well, certainly fewer of them would. Lampedusa is a tiny, resource-limited island and during the Libyan uprising two years ago was practically over-run with refugees.
As an aside, Lampedusa is an absolute jewel of the Mediterranean and I highly recommend it for a place to truly get away from it all (I think they finally got an ATM last year!). Not so easy to get to but worth the trip.
you missed the point by NOT having the full contest (ie the full comment)....but that is par for the course for some
We’re having a contest? Cool! Can I enter?
What you mean "we", paleface?
HEY NYER did you hear what Pope rode into today this type of car
It seemed to that there were two points. You asked, “Why commemorate the dead?” I answered the question. You observed that the Pope could have condemned crappy governments. Yes, he could have, but apparently did not.
That doesn’t change the fact that those who died were God’s beloved children, and their deaths worth of notice and remembrance.
The next time the Bishop asks for money I am going to tell him I gave at the office, the IRS office. I am going to tell him the IRS raised my taxes to support illegal immigrants among other things. I doubt I will get any response other than another solicitation.
“That doesnt change the fact that those who died were Gods beloved children, and their deaths worth of notice and remembrance.”
Of course. Any loss of life is tragic and worthy of our prayers and sorrows.
My problem is with the consistent Church comments alluding to this being Europe and America’s fault.
The Pope’s specific comment, “...globalization of indifference toward immigrants...”, comes to mind.
First, why do they always say immigrant, instead of illegal immigrant.
Secondly, why is it the West’s responsibility to house, feed, maintain health, and employ these illegal immigrants.
To the Vatican: I have a deep empathy for these poor souls
...but the real problem is the corrupt governments and poor economies of the Islamic world and Mexico, among others.
Oh, Vatican... you first.
I think his observation is supported by the comments that instantly dismiss the individuals who died and insist that they must be labeled as a disposable class, while the focus shifts back to politics - that is, money. This is far more in the spirit of Marxism than it is the spirit of Christianity, in my opinion.