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The continuing presence

· Aid distributed on behalf of the Pope to the immigrants on the island ·

Pope Francis continues to follow attentively the changing situation in Lampedusa. His thoughts are constantly directed at the conditions of refugees, as well as their future. Yesterday afternoon, he received a full report from the Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who had returned after spending a week-long mission on the island on behalf of the Holy Father.

Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento told our newspaper that the Almoner's presence “has made us truly feel that Pope Francis is beside us in this moment of deep pain. It was a much-appreciated gesture and also essential for the spiritual and psychological support to the divers who are coming out of the sea with their arms around lifeless bodies and with harrowing images in their eyes of bodies which have clamped between their lips chains with sacred images or crosses clenched to their chest: signs of their awareness that death was approaching”.

Other initiatives are being evaluated in order to bring the Pope's assistance to the refugees. With the monetary aid that was given in recent days by the Papal Almoner 1,600 calling cards have been bought and distributed among the immigrants so that they may stay in touch with their relatives. They also bought a large tent with games for the children staying in the camp. While the effort to recover bodies can be said to have concluded, the search continues to verify that there are no other bodies. During the last dive a rosary of mother pearls blessed by Pope Francis was placed on the keel of the sunken ship. ( mario ponzi )

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