Pope Francis welcomed Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, along with his delegation, to the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.
The issue of immigration took center stage during their meeting. Italy is currently dealing with a recent tragedy where a boat that took off from Libya carrying at least 700 immigrants capsized in the Mediterranean. Hundreds are feared dead. Incidents like these are fairly common. Pope Francis joined in on Italy's plea, calling for Europe to do more to help.
"They risk their lives, hoping for refuge. It's evident that a phenomenon of this proportion calls for a broader involvement. We must continue to ask for higher commitment on both a European and international level.”
It's estimated that since 2014, nearly 200,000 people have been rescued at sea by Italian rescue teams. Thousands more have survived and reached shore, but in Sicily for example, the number of shelters simply can't cope. Italy's president reiterated his plea for higher collaboration.
"Italy has called, for quite some time now, for decisive intervention from the European Union. This in light of the continuous deaths along the Mediterranean, the cradle of our civilization. With so many destroyed lives, the hope of so many people is lost as is the dignity of the international community.”
The instability that plagues many African and Middle Eastern countries was also touched on, since usually migrants leave their countries fleeing from war, violence, poverty and persecution. Immigration is one of the Pope's main concerns. During his visit to Lampedusa he called on the international community to take action. He did the same recently during his visit to Naples.
After his meeting with the Pope, the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressed Italy's president and his delegation. He also highlighted the need for Europe to assist Italy in dealing with the immigration crisis.