04/19/2015, 00.00
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Pope remembers and prays for "latest tragedy" of migrants, "our brothers and sisters" who "are seeking happiness"

At the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis says he is praying for the hundreds of victims in a sinking off the coast of Libya. An appeal to the international community to "act decisively and promptly." "Every baptized person is called to witness in word and deed, that Jesus is risen, He is alive and present in our midst." The Christian message "is not a theory, an ideology or a complex system of precepts and prohibitions, or moralism, but a message of salvation, a concrete event, even a person: the Risen Christ, the living and only Savior of all" . The Pope will be in Turin on June 21 to honor the Shroud, the exposition of which begins today.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “Remembrance" and "prayer" for the dead and their families and a heartfelt appeal to the international community to "act decisively and promptly", so that similar "tragedies" are not repeated: Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the news of the sinking of a boat off the coast of Libya, which is believed to have been carrying 700 migrants on board. The boat was travelling from Egypt; a ship that arrived in the vicinity has so far recovered only 28 people alive.

After the Regina Caeli today, slowly pronouncing each word, Francis said: "Dear brothers and sisters, news is emerging in these hours of a new tragedy in the waters of the Mediterranean. A boat full of migrants capsized last night about 60 miles off the Libyan coast and it is feared there are hundreds of victims. I express my deepest sorrow in the face of such a tragedy and assure the missing and their families, of my thoughts and prayers. I address a heartfelt appeal to the international community to act decisively and promptly, to prevent such tragedies from occurring again".

Addressing tens of thousands of pilgrims in the square, he spontaneously added: "They are men and women like us, our brothers and sisters who are seeking a better life, hungry, persecuted, injured, exploited, victims of wars. Seeking a better life. They were looking for happiness. I invite you to pray in silence first and then all together for these our brothers and sisters”.

And after a brief silence, the pope intoned a Hail Mary, recited by all present.

Earlier, the Pope had focused on the readings of today's Mass (Third Sunday of Easter, B), in which " the word 'witnesses' sounds twice". "Every baptized - he said - is called to testify by word and deed, the Risen Jesus, who is alive and present in our midst."

The Pope then explained "who a witness is". "The witness - he said - is one that has seen, that remembers and recounts. See, remember and recount are the three verbs that describe identity and mission. The witness is one who has seen, with an objective eye, he saw a reality, but with indifferent eye; saw and allowed himself to become involved in the event. This is why he remembers, not only because he knows precisely how to reconstruct the events, but because those facts spoke to him and he has grasped their profound meaning. Then the witness recounts, not in a cold and detached manner, but as someone who questioned himself, and since that day his life has changed".

"The content of the Christian witness - he continued - is not a theory, an ideology or a complex system of precepts and prohibitions, or moralism, but a message of salvation, a concrete event, even a person: the Risen Christ, the living and only Saviour of us all. He can be witnessed by those who have personal experience of Him, in prayer, in his Church, through a journey that has its foundation in Baptism, its nourishment in the Eucharist, its seal in Confirmation, its continuous conversion in Penance . Through this journey, always guided by the Word of God, every Christian can become a witness of the Risen Jesus. And his testimony is all the more credible the more his evangelical, joyful, courageous, gentle, peaceful, merciful way of life is transpired. Instead, if a Christian gives in to comforts, vanity, selfishness, if he becomes deaf and blind to the demands for "resurrection" of so many brothers, how will he communicate the living Jesus, the liberating power of the living Jesus and his infinite tenderness?".

"May Mary our Mother - he concluded - sustain us through her intercession, that we may become, with our limitations, but with the grace of faith, witnesses of the Risen Lord, leading the people we meet to the Easter gifts of joy and peace" .

Before saying goodbye and wishing everyone a "good lunch," Francis reminded those present that today the solemn exposition of the Holy Shroud begins in Turin. The Pope will travel to Turin on 21 June to venerate the relic. "I hope - he added - that this act of veneration will help us all to find in Jesus Christ the merciful face of God, and to recognize Him in the faces of others, especially those who suffer most."

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