Pope Francis today prayed for immigrants who lose their lives on their “terrible journeys” seeking a better life.
The Pope offered this prayer after leading the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“Lamentably as well, in recent days, numerous immigrants have lost their lives in their terrible journeys. For all of these brothers and sisters, I pray, and I invite you to pray,” he said.
The Holy Father mentioned specifically the 71 victims —including four children— found partially decomposed Thursday in a refrigerated truck abandoned on Austria’s main highway.
He said he united himself in prayer with Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who was present in St. Peter’s, and the whole Church in Austria.
“We entrust each one of them to the mercy of God and we ask Him to help us to cooperate effectively to stop these crimes that offend the whole human family,” the Pope said, and then invited those in the Square to pray in silence for a few moments.
The Associated Press reported that the 71 migrants were presumed to have suffocated and might have already been dead by the time the truck they were in crossed in to Austria on Wednesday night. Three or four people have been arrested in connection with the crime, which is believed to be part of a larger Bulgarian-Hungarian human smuggling ring.
The youngest victim was a girl between 1 and 2 years old, and the other three children were boys aged 8 to 10. At least some of the refugees were escaping Syria.
Meanwhile, as many as 200 were thought dead Friday after the latest incident of a refugee boat sinking off the coast of Libya. The UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said Friday that some 500 people were on board the vessel that sank. In a statement, the UNHCR said some 2,500 refugees and migrants are estimated to have died or gone missing already this year, trying to reach Europe.
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