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Pope Remembers Child Migrant Killed at Sea

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Pope Remembers Child Migrant Killed at Sea

From Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis on Saturday received some 400 children of different ethnicities, cultures and religions “€“ many of them migrants and refugees “€“ who had traveled to Rome from Calabria in southern Italy aboard the “€œChildren”€™s Train”€ “€“ the Treno dei Bambini “€“ an annual initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which this year has as its theme, “€œCarried by waves.”€ The theme is designed at once to invoke the often deadly danger of migration, and the hope in the promise of a better future that drives people “€“ along with the threat of torture, slavery and death “€“ to flee their homelands and seek a better life on strange and distant shores.

The children arrived Saturday at St. Peter”€™s railway station in the Vatican: their conveyance brining also the pain of the experience of its young passengers “€“ their undeniable suffering, weaved together with the care and affection offered the children by the John XXIII Association, and the work of the “€œQuattrocanti”€ Children”€™s Orchestra of Palermo (in which boys and girls of eight different ethnicities are involved), as well as the initiative of Mary Salvia, principal of a school in Vibo Marina, who brought to Pope Francis the money from her school”€™s collection for the children of Lesbos and a letter signed by her pupils, which Cardinal Ravasi read to the Pope. “€œWe children promise that we will welcome anyone who arrives in our country: we shall never consider anyone who has a different skin color, or who speaks a different language, or who professes a different religion from ours, a dangerous enemy.”€

In an unscripted exchange with the young travelers, Pope Francis focused on the human cost of indifference to the plight of migrants, recounting the story and sharing the words of a rescue worker who brought the Holy Father the life vest of a young migrant who drowned at sea. “€œHe brought me this jacket,”€ said Pope Francis, “€œand with tears in his eyes he said to me, “€˜Father, I couldn”€™t do it “€“ there was a little girl on the waves, and I did all I could, but I couldn”€™t save her: only her life vest was left.”€™”€

Then, indicating the Jacket, the Holy Father said, “€œI do not [tell you this because I] want you to be sad, but [because] you are brave and you [should] know the truth: they are in danger “€“ many boys and girls, small children, men, women “€“ they are in danger,”€ he said. “€œLet us think of this little girl: what was her name? I do not know: a little girl with no name. Each of you give her the name you would like, each in his heart. She is in heaven, she is looking on us.”€

A teachable moment among many afforded by the occasion, as was the moment in which one of the Pope”€™s young visitors asked him what it means “€œto be Pope”€: The Holy Father replied, “€œ[to do] the good that I can do.”€ He went on to say, “€œI feel that Jesus called me to this: Jesus wanted me to be a Christian, and a Christian must do [the good he can]; and Jesus also wanted me to be a priest, and a bishop “€“ and a priest and a bishop must do [the good they can]; I feel that Jesus is calling me to do this “€“ that”€™s what I feel,”€ he said.


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