The Holy See has announced that Pope Francis will visit the Italian island of Lampedusa on July 8th. Located roughly 74 miles from Tunisia, Lampedusa is the favored route of African migrants making their way into Italy.
Last year, a boat capsized killing several African migrants. A communique by the Holy See stated that the Holy Father intends to “pray for those who lost their lives at sea, as well as visit the survivors and refugees present.”
A massive influx of migrants arriving in influence has been caused by political unrest in the region. In 2011, an estimated 30,000 entered into Lampedusa, causing rising tensions from the Italian population. Pope Francis intends to “encourage the inhabitants of the island” while appealing “to the responsponsibility of all to ensure that proper care is taken of these brothers and sisters in great need.”
The communique stated that due to its nature and particular circumstance, the Holy Father’s visit will be discreet as possible, “also with regard to the presence of the bishops of the region and of the civil authorities.”