FOLLOWING his Regina Coeli address, Pope Francis lead thousands in praying the Hail Mary for those who died after a fishing boat carrying an estimated 700 migrants capsized off the Libyan coast.
Although Italian border police rescued 28 people, an estimated 700 people were feared dead in what may be the worst disaster in the Mediterranean. Rescue workers had recovered only 24 bodies on April 19.
“I express my deepest sorrow in the face of such a tragedy and I assure for those lost and their families my remembrance in prayer,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis also called on the international community to act “decisively and promptly” to prevent tragedies like capsizing from occurring again.
“They are men and women like us,” he said.
“Our brothers and sisters who are looking for a better life – hungry, persecuted,wounded, exploited, victims of war.
“They were looking for a better life. They were looking for happiness. I invite you to pray in silence first, and then all together for these brothers and sisters.”
The Pontiff then led the faithful in a moment of silence before leading them in prayer for the victims and their families.
Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has brought worldwide attention to the plight of migrants, many of whom are escaping violence, war and persecution.
Nearly four months after his election, the Pope celebrated Mass at Lampedusa in southern Italy, to remember the thousands of victims who have died at sea trying to enter Europe through the port city.
“How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live; we don’t care; we don’t protect what God created for everyone, and we end up unable even to care for one another. And when humanity as a whole loses its bearings, it results in tragedies like the one we have witnessed,” the Holy Father said in his homily on July 8, 2013.