Pope Francis and Church leaders in Italy expressed their pain and sent their prayers for the eternal rest of at least 59 migrants who died in a shipwreck on Sunday off the southern coast of Italy.
“This morning I learned with sorrow of the shipwreck that occurred on the Calabrian coast near Crotone. Already 40 dead have been recovered, including many children,” said the pope during Angelus on Sunday.
“I pray for each of them, for the missing, and for the other surviving migrants,” he said.
He also thanked “those who have brought relief and those who are giving shelter. May Our Lady support these brothers and sisters of ours.”
The boat that was transporting the migrants crashed into the rocks a few meters from the coast of the village of Steccato di Cutro in Calabria.
Italian authorities continue to search with boats for dozens still missing at sea.
According to some witnesses, the ship carried about 250 people on board. Some 80 migrants have been rescued so far.
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, also spoke about this tragedy.
“The country feels profound sadness and acute pain for the umpteenth shipwreck that has occurred on our coasts. The victims belong to everyone and we feel them ours,” he said in a statement.
He also assured that the Church in Italy has joined “the prayer of the Holy Father for each of them, for those who are still missing and for the survivors”
“We entrust them to God with a thought for their families,” he added.
He said the tragedy reminds us that “the issue of migrants and refugees must be faced with responsibility and humanity.”
“The Mediterranean has become a large cemetery in 20 years. National and European options and policies are needed, with a new determination and with the awareness that not doing so allows similar situations to be repeated,” he said.
He stressed the need for “European and international awareness” that translates into a “structural, shared and supportive response between institutions and countries.”
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