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Italians pray moving Via Crucis on beach where 71 died



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Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 03/08/23

A shipwreck in southern Italy resulted in 71 deaths. The local community came together to pray the Stations of the Cross.

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On February 26, 2023, tragedy struck southern Italy, as a fishing boat filled with migrants sank in rough seas causing the death of 71 people, including many minors. Two weeks later, on Sunday, March 5, around 5,000 people participated in the Stations of the Cross on the shores of Steccato di Cutro, which collected the bodies of those who lost their lives. Some of their belongings still lay strewn in the sand, as reported by Vatican News.

The cross used in the procession was made by a local carpenter out of wood from the wrecked ship. Local parishioners and mayors carried the cross through the various stations in the event organized by the Archdiocese of Crotone-Santa Severina. The Archbishop, Angelo Raffaele Panzetta, and the Imam of the Mosque in Cutro, Mustafa Achik, lead the prayer, walking side by side.

Most of the migrants were from Afghanistan and Pakistan and ranged from all ages. Twin toddlers and a baby only a few months old were amongst the victims. Some 80 people survived the shipwreck but between 30 and 40 are thought to be still missing

At the end of the procession the Imam and a local priest threw a wreath of white flowers in the sea, to honor those who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean. Pope Francis’ made the same gesture during his first trip outside of Rome to the island of Lampedusa in July 2013. 

The Vatican’s words on this tragedy

“I pray for each one of them, for the missing and for the other surviving migrants. I thank those who have brought relief and those who are providing shelter. May Our Lady sustain these brothers and sisters of ours,” the Pope said at the Angelus on February 26, a couple of hours after the shipwreck had occurred. 

On March 6, on the occasion of the inauguration of the formation course “Cattedra dell’accoglienza” (roughly translated as “welcome desk”) near Rome, the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, highlighted the tragedy that occurred on the Italian coast.

As reported byVatican News, he said it was “a warning to our consciences and cannot leave us either indifferent or stuck in fear.” 

This event is “also a call to rethink reception policies,” he explained. “I believe that a whole series of principles and guidelines have been offered by the Church that should be taken into account precisely in rethinking these policies.”

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