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Pope calls migrant tragedy in Mediterranean 'a moment of shame'

Pope calls migrant tragedy in Mediterranean 'a moment of shame'
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Pope FrancisPope FrancisLieu calls Catholic bishops 'hypocrites' for move to deny Biden communion Catholic bishops advance effort that could deny Biden communion Bishops to debate banning communion for president MORE said Sunday that the assumed deaths of more than 130 migrants after their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea last week was a "moment of shame" for all those who could have intervened to save those onboard.

The Associated Press reported that Francis condemned the tragedy during his Sunday remarks to onlookers in St. Peter's Square, telling those gathered: “I confess to you I am very pained by the tragedy that once again played out in the last days in the Mediterranean."

“One hundred and thirty migrants died in the sea. They are persons, human lives, who for two entire days implored in vain for help, help that didn’t arrive,″ the pope continued, adding: “Let us pray for these brothers and sisters, let us interrogate all of ourselves about this latest tragedy. It is a moment of shame.”

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He asked his followers to "pray also for those who can help but who prefer to look the other way,” according to the AP.

Migrants frequently cross the Mediterranean Sea in roughly-constructed vessels in the hopes of reaching better economic prospects and safer lives in Europe. Libyan Coast Guard and Italian Coast Guard vessels as well as international organizations are frequently called to respond to distressed vessels in the area.

The latest tragedy occurred Tuesday, with merchant vessels and an international aid organization rallying to help the distressed vessel but discovering no survivors in the sea.

“Today, after hours of search, our worst fear has come true,’’ Luisa Albera, a search and rescue coordinator for the international aid group SOS Méditerranée told The Guardian. “The crew of the Ocean Viking had to witness the devastating aftermath of the shipwreck of a rubber boat north-east of Tripoli. This boat had been reported in distress with around 130 people onboard on Wednesday morning."

“We are heartbroken. We think of the lives that have been lost and of the families who might never have certainty as to what happened to their loved ones," Albera added.

Spanish authorities announced earlier this month that a rescue of a distressed ship carrying West African migrants had resulted in the discovery of four dead onboard.