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Pope Francis asks for mercy as migrant deaths at sea rise

Antoine Mekary | Aleteia

The call for help comes after Italy has talked of closing its borders to future migrants.

In a Sunday appearance in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis spoke about the continuing loss of migrant lives as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean sea in smugglers’ vessels.

The pope called for “the international community to act decisively and quickly so similar tragedies aren’t repeated” and said the “safety, respect of rights and the dignity of all must be guaranteed.”

Fewer immigrants have reached the shores of Italy in 2018 than in recent years, due to rough water conditions and poorly maintained vessels. Migration has also become more difficult as Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has made an effort to prevent migrant boats from docking, vowing to stop all future transports as well.

Daily Sabah reports around 1,292 migrants died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in the first half of 2018. About 629 died in June alone.

The Boston Pilot notes that prior to his appeal, Pope Francis refered to the day’s Gospel reading, when Jesus and his disciples try to rest but are unable to do so because of a large gathering of people. The pope said:

“They were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus’ gaze isn’t a neutral gaze or, worse, cold and distant because Jesus always looks with the eyes of the heart. And his heart is so tender and full of compassion that he is able to see even the most hidden needs of people,” the pope said.

The same compassion, he added, is the “behavior and predisposition of God toward humankind and its history.”

“With Jesus at our side, we can proceed safely, we can be overcome trials, we can progress in love toward God and toward our neighbor. Jesus has made himself a gift for others, becoming a model of love and service for each one of us,” Pope Francis said.

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