Pope Francis chose the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa as the site of his first official visit outside Rome. The island, known as the "gateway to Europe,” is a silent witness to the tragedies that play out at sea, as thousands of immigrants drown in search of a better future.
One year ago, the Pope strongly condemned the "globalization of indifference.”
July 8, 2013
"We see a person, on the brink of death, laying out on the street and we think 'poor man.' Yet we carry on with our day. We think: It's not my responsibility...and we feel justified by this notion.' Who has cried for these people who lost their lives on a boat? For the young mothers who traveled with their children? For those men, who are looking for means to support their families? We are a society that has forgotten the experience of shedding tears, of suffering amid the globalization of indifference.”
Pope Francis also honored all of those who lost their lives during the treacherous journey to Europe, with a simple gesture: he laid a wreath at sea.
During the month of October, the world's attention shifted once again to the Italian island. A poorly built boat went up in flames and sank, killing 360 people on board. The Pope, after finding out, reacted unequivocally.
October 3, 2013
"It brings me great pain to think of the numerous victims in the tragic shipwreck off of Lampedusa today. The word that comes to mind is shame: it's shameful!”
As a result of one-year anniversary of his trip, Pope Francis sent a message to the archbishop of Agrigento, where Lampedusa is located. He recalled the immigration issues are worsening, and that tragedies at sea continue to this day. He also called for the "competent institutions, especially at the European level, to be braver and more generous in aiding refugees.”