No Man Is an Island ... Even on Lampedusa
Pope Francis' quotability average maintained well above .500 today when he spoke of the "globalization of indifference," his expression for the worldwide expansion of a kind of anti-solidarity, an encroaching acceptance of the suffering of others. His offered his latest entry into Bartlett's during his first appearance outside of Rome when he celebrated Mass in Lampedusa, an Italian island near the coast of North Africa, where dozens of illegal immigrants arrive every day. The island is a Euopean landfall that an unknowable number of migrants die attempting to reach each year. Speaking of such deaths, he said: “Lord, we ask forgiveness, for those who with their laws and decisions have created situations, that have led to these tragedies...”
The base of the altar Pope Francis used for his first celebration of the Mass outside of Rome was made from a boat used by group of North African migrants. The United Nations reports that 8,000 people have landed on Lampedusa’s coasts in the first half of 2013. During the Arab Spring, dozens of boats arrived each day. Many of the new arrivals are Muslim and Pope Francis used his homily on Lampedusa to offer greetings on the beginning of the Muslim observance of Ramadan. "I sent heartfelt greetings to dear Mulsim immigrants who, this evening, will begin the Ramadan fast, and wish them them abundant spiritual rewards," he said.
"The Church is close to you in your search for a better lives for yourselves and your families." Pope Francis explained during his homily that he felt compelled to come to Lamepdusa after "I heard a few weeks ago that more immigrants had drowned.
"The news was like a thorn piercing my heart," said Francis, referring to an incident in mid-June when at least 10 migrants drowned off Malta when a Tunisian fishing boat allegedly refused to rescue them. "I felt I must come to Lampedusa to pray that such a tragedy doesn't happen again," Francis said, worrying that "we have lost our sense of fraternal responsibility."