At the Angelus, Pope Francis expresses "pain" and "prayer" for the tragedies of shipwrecks in front of the Libyan coasts and north of Cyprus. He calls for the "decision and promptness" of the international community "in order to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring and guaranteeing security, respect for the rights and dignity of all". The three verbs of the Pastor: to see, to have compassion, to teach.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - A call for the "international community to act decisively and promptly" to avoid the "shipwrecks of boats loaded with migrants in the waters of the Mediterranean", in "respect for the rights and dignity of all". This is the appeal launched by Pope Francis today just after the Angelus prayer with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The pontiff expressed first of all his "pain faced with such tragedies" assuring "for the disappeared and their families my remembrance and my prayer".
On 17 July a boat with 153 people was wrecked off the Libyan coast. According to the NGO Open Arms, the Libyan coast guard has rescued most of the people, but left three of them at sea: a woman was rescued by a vessel of the former; another woman and a child had perished and their bodies floated on the water. The migrants were of African origin.
On July 19, in more breaking news 19 people died and 25 result missing following the sinking of a boat north of Cyprus. At least 103 people were taken to safety. The migrants were Syrians.
Open Arms has accused the Libyan coast guard (and Italy) of failure to rescue. The Pope's appeal ignores polemics, but exerts a strong pressure "to ensure that the international community acts decisively and promptly in order to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring while guaranteeing security, respect for the rights and dignity of all".
Previously, Pope Francis had paused to comment on today's Gospel (16th Sunday for year, B, Mark 6, 30-34), when Jesus tries in vain to bring his apostles to rest "a little", but they are reached from the crowd and Jesus puts to "teach them many things".
"The same - said Francis - can also happen today. Sometimes we fail to realize our projects, because something urgent and unexpected happens that disrupts our programs and requires flexibility and availability to the needs of others ".
The pontiff then focused on three verbs present in the proclamation of the gospel: to see, to have compassion, to teach, which he defined as "the verbs of the Shepherd".
"Jesus' gaze - he continued - is not a neutral or, worse, cold and detached gaze, because Jesus always looks with the eyes of the heart. And his heart is so tender and full of compassion, that he knows how to grasp the even more hidden needs of people. Moreover, his compassion does not simply indicate an emotional reaction to a situation of unease of the people, but it is much more: it is the attitude and predisposition of God towards man and his history. Jesus appears as the realization of God's concern and care for his people".
"Since Jesus was moved to see all those people in need of guidance and help, one would expect that He would carry out a miracle. Instead, he began to teach them many things. This is the first bread that the Messiah offers to the hungry and lost crowd: the bread of the Word. We all need the word of truth, to guide us and enlighten our path. Without the truth, which is Christ himself, it is not possible to find the right orientation of life. When one moves away from Jesus and his love, we loose ourselves and our existence turns into disappointment and dissatisfaction. With Jesus on out side we can proceed with security, we can overcome the trials, we progress in love for God and for our neighbor. Jesus has made himself a gift for others, thus becoming a model of love and service for each one of us ".