'Where is your brother?' Pope Francis issues challenge in visit to Lampedusa

Today Pope Francis made his first pastoral visit outside of Rome to the island of Lampedusa, where thousands of African migrants enter Italy searching for a better life.

In his homily while celebrating Mass with migrants and Lampedusa residents, Pope Francis adamantly condemned what he called the "globalization of indifference" and challenged us to renew a sense of compassion and help our fellow men.

Pope Francis said: "So many of us, even including myself, are disoriented, we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live, we don't care, we don't protect that which God has created for all, and we are unable to care for one another. And when this disorientation assumes worldwide dimensions, we arrive at tragedies like the one we have seen.

"'Where is your brother?' the voice of blood cries even to me, God says. This is not a question addressed others: it is a question addressed to me, to you, to each one of us."

"We are accustomed to the suffering of others," said Pope Francis. "Who has wept for the deaths of these brothers and sisters? Who has wept for the people who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who wanted something to support their families? We are a society that has forgotten the experience of weeping, of ‘suffering with’: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep!"

A cry for help

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said the visit was "a gesture of solidarity, a call to focus everyone's attention on one of the grave problems of our time: that of forced migration caused by so many terrible motives, among which are the lack of liberty, hunger, many other problems that make migrants' lives in their native lands extremely difficult and even impossible."

En route to Lampedusa, Pope Francis commemorated the almost 20,000 people who have died on the dangerous journey by laying a wreath in the sea.

Pope also Francis spoke with a group of 500 migrants recently arrived in Lampedusa who recounted their struggles after fleeing their country for both "political and economic" reasons.

A migrant representative thanked Italy for welcoming refugees and beseeched the pope (and all of us), asking for further help. The migrant emphasized the great number of people that have been forced to flee their country and the suffering they have endured.

"To arrive here, in this tranquil place, we overcame many obstacles; we were kidnapped by many traffickers," he said. "To arrive here, also again in Libya, we have suffered greatly. We would like the Holy Father's help and … we would like other countries to help us."


Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.