Pope will travel to Italian island to pray for immigrants

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2013 / 11:47 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will travel to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on July 8 to pray for immigrants who died trying to reach the destination.

A statement released July 1 by the Holy See press office said the Holy Father was “deeply touched by the recent sinking of a boat carrying migrants from Africa, the latest of a series of similar tragedies.”

“Because of the particular circumstances,” the statement explained, the Pope’s visit will be “as discreet as possible, also with regard to the presence of the bishops of the region and of the civil authorities.”

Over the last decade, the island of Lampedusa has been a main gateway for migrants – particularly from Africa – seeking to enter Europe.

The pontiff will pray for those who lost their lives at sea and visit survivors and refugees.

He will also encourage Lampedusa’s inhabitants and appeal to the responsibility of all to ensure that proper care is given to them.

The Pope will celebrate Mass at 10:00 a.m. local time at the Arena Sporting Ground. He will then visit the parish of San Gerlando before returning to Rome by helicopter.

On a separate note, the Vatican also announced that Pope Francis will resume general audiences on September 4, after taking a break over the summer.

However, he will continue to lead the Angelus prayer at the Vatican during the month of August.

The pontiff will celebrate Mass in the town of Castel Gandolfo on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption. Italians call the day “Ferragosto,” and it marks the start of their summer vacation.

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