Remember Lampedusa!

You probably didn’t even hear about it:  about a month ago, 12 refugees, fleeing war and poverty in their home, Africa, drowned at sea, victims, not only of a leaky, worn-out, wooden boat, but also of unscrupulous traffickers.  These poor folks were close to sanctuary on the tiny island of Lampedusa, just off the coast of Sicily.

You probably didn’t hear about it, right?  Tragically, it’s hardly news anymore, as the Mediterranean Sea has claimed 19,000 refugees the past 15 years alone.

One man did hear about it, and decided to do something about it:  Pope Francis. Last week, on July 8, he travelled to Lampedusa, his first trip outside of Rome as our Holy Father.

He wanted, he stated, to do penance for our callousness toward refugees, so he offered a Mass of Atonement there on the little island;

He wanted to thank the people of Lampedusa, because so many there have tried to welcome and care for the refugees;

Pope Francis desired to embrace those immigrants who had arrived, and are still in camps and shelters eager to start a new, secure life;

He especially wanted to “wake us up,” to remind the world that, when any human person is treated like trash, even starving, scared, oppressed Africans “on the run,” without anything but hope, all life is degraded!

You probably didn’t see much coverage of his one-day visit to this four mile-long island off Sicily, to this section of the sea that is now an aquatic cemetery to thousands of refugees.

That’s sad. . . because the Holy Father wanted to “wake us up.” Here he showed the tenderness he spoke of last March 19, when he began his service as pastor of the Church universal. The media mostly ignored it.

Something tells me that this Pope is not about to drop it. As Harry Bosch, the L.A. police detective in Michael Connelly’s series, repeats, “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.”

This Pope will not let us forget anybody:  the baby in the womb, the immigrant, the refugee, the beggar, the elders, the sick, the homeless and fleeing, the prisoners – – “Everybody counts… or nobody counts.”

Remember Lampedusa!  Cry for the victims; do penance for our ignoring their plight; resolve to welcome the immigrant and refugee.

Pope Francis… like Jesus, like St. Francis… is going to nag us about it!

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4 Responses to “Remember Lampedusa!”

  1. Yes, everybody counts or nobody counts. Yet as a Church we frequently apply this with unusual criteria to who the everybody or nobody might turn to be.

  2. J Carr says:

    There was a time when I disliked or even resented illegal immigrants. I waited and suffered waiting in line and felt that so should anyone coming to this country. My heart told me it was wrong but just to feel that way about others. Then, with a bit of curiosity I learned from a priest why the church fights for immigrants and refugees legal or otherwise. I learned that the Holy Family were refugees when they sought refuge from Herod. I also learned that sheltering strangers is something Jesus would want me to do. Still though the thought was accepted the way one accepts a bitter medicine. That is until I read what Pope Francis said and reminded us of at Lampedusa. God asking Cain “Where is your brother?” or God asking and looking for Adam after he ate the apple from the tree. What Pope Francis said about how we should feel about illegal immigrants finally had touched my heart. His way of framing the issue has pulled me out of a very dark place. Thank you Pope Francis. I pray for the protection of the Church and for your safe return to Rome

  3. Nelly says:

    I like many was unaware of the victims/refugees fleeing to Lampedusa. I will remember them in my prayers. Everybody counts or nobody counts are words to live by. I realize not all people live their lives in this manner or think of others in this way but we must not worry about this and live life with better example.

  4. rbj says:

    If only the Church in America was more like Pope Francis. More about the poor and less about politics.

    CNN stated today, regarding some reasons why many are leaving the church:

    “We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

    We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

    We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

    We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

    We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

    You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

    Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.”

    God Bless you Cardinal Dolan and hope you see some value in the above.