The pope met with members of a European project to compile the stories and faces of asylum seekers in an effort to humanize the crisis.
It's overseen by mayors of border cities, the points of arrival for people seeking help.
Mayor of Lampedusa
“Holiness, we are here before you with our eyes and hearts full of excitement and hope. They are the same feelings we've seen in the faces of migrants, of the human beings who have arrived at our door.”
The pope asked them to fight against indifference, saying it's unacceptable that those seeking hope by sea die without ever receiving help.
He also asked them to come up with creative ways to help migrants.
“[The borders] can become places to experiment with models to overcome the difficulties new arrivals place on local communities.”
As a commemorative token, they gave the pope this symbolic crucifix.
“It's made from the mast of a boat, and Jesus from the keel that supports the entire boat. If the keel breaks, the boat sinks. That's why the figure of Christ was made out of the keel, to give more meaning to the boat, which is supported by the keel.”
The project is called “Snapshots from the Borders.”
One of its proposals is to designate every Oct. 3 as the “Day of Memory and Welcome,” in remembrance of the boat that sank off the coast of Lampedusa. Of the more than 500 migrants on board, only 155 survived.