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Pope Francis at the Regina Coeli: Mediterranean migrant deaths are ‘moment of shame’

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CNA Staff, Apr 25, 2021 / 06:00 am America/Denver (CNA).

Pope Francis said Sunday that the recent deaths of 130 migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea marked “a moment of shame.”

Speaking after the recitation of the Regina Coeli April 25, the pope referred to reports that the migrants died despite SOS calls being issued when their inflatable boat sank off the coast of Libya last week.

He said: “I confess I am extremely sad over the tragedy that has once again taken place in the Mediterranean. One hundred thirty migrants died in the sea. They are people. They are human beings who begged for help in vain for two whole days — help that never arrived.”

“Brothers and sisters, let us all ask ourselves about this umpteenth tragedy. It is a shameful moment. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters, and for all those who continue to die in these tragic crossings.”

“Let us also pray for those who can help but prefer to look the other way. Let us pray in silence for them…”

The pope gave his Regina Coeli address at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, where pilgrims stood spaced apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He observed that April 25 marked the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, whose theme this year is “St. Joseph: The Dream of Vocation.”

“Let us thank the Lord so that he might continue to raise up in the Church people who, for love of Him, consecrate themselves to the proclamation of the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters,” he said.

He noted that on Sunday morning he ordained nine new priests for the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Let us ask the Lord to send good laborers to work in his vineyard and that he might multiply vocations to the consecrated life,” he said.

In his reflection before the Regina Coeli, the pope meditated on the Gospel reading for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, called Good Shepherd Sunday.

He said that John 10:11-18 presented Jesus as “the true shepherd who defends, knows and loves his sheep.”

“The ‘mercenary’ is the opposite of the Good Shepherd, the one who does not care about the sheep because they are not his. He does the job only for pay and is not concerned about defending them: when a wolf arrives, he flees and abandons them,” he said.

“Instead, Jesus, the true shepherd, defends us always and saves us from so many difficult situations, dangerous situations through the light of his word and the strength of his presence that we always experience if we want to listen, every day.”

The pope said it was consoling to know that as well as defending us, Jesus also knows each one of us personally.

“We are not a ‘mass,’ a ‘multitude,’ for Him, no. We are unique individuals, each with his or her own story, he knows us with our own story, each with his or her own value, both because they have been created and have been redeemed by Christ,” he said.

Above all, he commented, Jesus the Good Shepherd loves his flock.

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