After deadly shipwreck, Pope Francis appeals for safety of migrants

A helper from Doctors Without Borders holds a Nigerian child as he and his mother disembark from the MV Aquarius upon its arrival at the Sicilian port of Messina on May 14 2018 Credit LOUISA GOULIAMAKI AFP Getty Images A helper from Doctors Without Borders holds a Nigerian child as a migrant ship arrives at a Sicilian port May 14, 2018. | Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP / Getty Images.

As up to 150 migrants are feared to have drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya, Pope Francis made an appeal to the international community Sunday to act decisively to ensure the safety and dignity of migrants.

"I learned with pain the news of the dramatic shipwreck that occurred in recent days in the waters of the Mediterranean," Pope Francis said July 28.

"I renew my heartfelt appeal for the international community to act promptly and decisively, to avoid the repetition of similar tragedies and to guarantee the safety and dignity of all. I invite you to pray with me for the victims and their families," the pope said during his Angelus address.

According to the United Nations, the capsized migrant ship July 25 has resulted in the worst loss of life in the Mediterranean this year. Prior to this shipwreck, 669 people died in the Mediterranean Sea so far in 2019.

Pope Francis' appeal echoes the call from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who said July 26, "The worst Mediterranean tragedy of the year has just occurred. Restoring rescue at sea, an end to refugee and migrant detention in Libya, increasing safe pathways out of Libya must happen now before it is too late for many more desperate people."

At least 147 people were rescued from the vessel that sank five miles off the coast of Libya after suspected engine failure. The ship held somewhere between 250-300 migrants, including women and children, from Eritrea, Sudan, Bangladesh, Palestine, and other countries.

Pope Francis said that in praying for the victims one can ask God from the heart, "Father, why?"

He said that Jesus teaches us through the Our Father prayer that we can enter into prayerful and direct dialogue with God as a child talks to their father.

"Here is the novelty of Christian prayer. It is dialogue between people who love each other, a dialogue based on trust, supported by listening and open to solidarity. It is a dialogue of the Son with the Father, a dialogue between children and the Father," Pope Francis said.

The pope said it is important to feel God's fatherhood in one's heart. He said that God will turn His gaze to us if we ask Him for an explanation, just as a father would to his three year old son.

"What we ask in the 'Our Father' is already all done to us in the Only-begotten Son: the sanctification of the Name, the advent of the Kingdom, the gift of bread, forgiveness and liberation from evil. As we ask, we open our hands to receive. Receive the gifts that the Father showed us in the Son," he said.

"We ask Mary, a praying woman, to help us pray the Our Father united to Jesus to live the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit," Pope Francis said.

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