Pope rejects global indifference to migrants

Pope Francis blesses a wreath before tossing it into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, July 8.

CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

Pope Francis blesses a wreath before tossing it into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, July 8.

July 15, 2013

Before saying a word publicly, Pope Francis made the sign of the cross and tossed a wreath of white and yellow flowers into the Mediterranean Sea in memory of the estimated 20,000 African immigrants who have died in the past 25 years trying to reach a new life in Europe.

In his homily at an outdoor Mass on the Italian island of Lampedusa July 8, Pope Francis said he decided to visit the small island, after seeing newspaper headlines in June describing the drowning of immigrants at sea.

"Those boats, instead of being a means of hope, were a means of death," he said.

Pope Francis said the deaths of the immigrants spurred him to try to awaken people's consciences.

"Who is responsible for the blood of these brothers and sisters of ours?" the pope asked in his homily. "All of us respond: 'It wasn't me. I have nothing to do with it. It was others, certainly not me.'"

"We have lost a sense of fraternal responsibility" and are acting like those in the Gospel who saw the man who had been beaten, robbed and left on the road half dead, but they kept walking.

"The culture of well-being, which leads us to think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of others," Pope Francis said.

The globalization of the world's economy in many cases has led to "the globalization of indifference," he said.