Visibly moved, Pope Francis prayed for the 71 people who were found dead inside a truck in Austria. They were refugees who were hoping to make their way to northern Europe. But as they traveled under those dangerous conditions, they died.
"We entrust each of them to the mercy of God and we ask Him to help us to work together effectively to prevent these crimes, which offend the entire human family.”
He then invited the thousands of pilgrims out in St. Peter's Square, to pray along with him for the victims and their families.
With the rising number of refugees, the Pope once again made an appeal, asking for the international community to act and help stop the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. In light of the beatification of a martyred Syrian Catholic Bishop on Saturday, named Flavynus Mikhayil Melk of Gazarta, who refused to convert to Islam during the Armenian genocide and was tortured for it, the Pope prayed for all persecuted Christians.
"Even today, in the Middle East and other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted. May the beatification of this Bishop Martyr instill in them consolation, courage and hope. Let it also be a stimulus to legislators and government leaders to guarantee religious freedom everywhere. May the international community put an end to the violence and oppression.”
There are more persecuted Christians now, said the Pope than in the early years of Christianity.