Vatican City, Apr 19, 2015 / 07:48 am
Pope Francis led a moment of prayerful silence on Sunday for the hundreds of migrants killed off the coast of Lampedusa, saying they were like us in their search for happiness.
“They are men and women like us, our brothers who seek a better life: hungry, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war,” the Pope said in off-the-cuff remarks. “They were looking for happiness.”
The Pope was speaking during his weekly Regina Caeli address to the crowds in Saint Peter’s Square, some twelve hours following the accident.
Hundreds of people are feared dead after the boat carrying as many as 700 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Italian coastguard.
The BBC reports that the ship went down at around midnight local time south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, a major entry point for migrants from northern Africa.
“I express my deepest sorrow in the face of such a tragedy, and assure my remembrance in prayer for the lost and their families,” Pope Francis said in his Apr. 19 address.
He invited those in the crowd to take a moment of prayerful silence for those killed in last night’s boat accident before leading the crowds in praying the Hail Mary.
The pontiff then made a “heartfelt appeal” to the international community to act “decisively and promptly”, in order to prevent similar tragedies from being repeated.