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Vatican Secretary of State denounces indifference to refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea

June 17, 2021

Cardinal Pietro Parolin warned that indifference to refugees making the journey across the Mediterranean Sea presages the “shipwreck of civilization.”

Presiding over a June 15 prayer vigil organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, the Vatican’s Secretary of State spoke of “a tragedy that has been knocking on the doors of our house for years, and above all on the door of our conscience. And which could even more sadly degenerate into a true and proper shipwreck of civilization.” “

Too much violence, too much exploitation. And so much indifference,” he continued, as he warned that the Mediterranean Sea—historically known as Mare Nostrum (Our Sea)—risks becoming Mare Mortuum (The Sea of the Dead). In doing so, Cardinal Parolin echoed the words of Pope Francis on June 13, when he described the Mediterranean as “Europe’s biggest cemetery.”

Cardinal Parolin appealed for a focus on the plight of persons, rather than statistics, in order for Europe to move beyond the political polarization surrounding migration and to develop a “response characterized by solidarity.”

“We are sleeping, not Jesus,” Cardinal Parolin added. “And it is he who tries to wake us up from the sleep of indifference, so that we recognize ourselves as brothers and sisters of all. . . . Often, even among believers, we let ourselves be guided by political convictions, rather than by the radical Word and the unsettling of the Gospel.”


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