News / Europe

Pope Chooses Migrant-rich Lampedusa for First Trip

FILE - People attend a candlelight vigil for people missing after a boat carrying migrants from Tunisia sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, September 2012, in Tunis September 10, 2012.
FILE - People attend a candlelight vigil for people missing after a boat carrying migrants from Tunisia sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, September 2012, in Tunis September 10, 2012.
Reuters
Pope Francis has chosen the southern Italian island of Lampedusa for his first trip outside Rome, to show solidarity with tens of thousands of African refugees who each year brave a perilous journey there in flimsy boats, the Vatican said on Monday.

Francis will make the trip days after publishing his first encyclical, or doctrinal letter, entitled Light of Faith. It will build on work begun by retired Pope Benedict XVI, and will be released on Friday, the Vatican said.

The small island, Italy's southernmost point, is the conduit for mostly African immigrants fleeing conflict or economic hardship in order to enter the European Union.

FILE - Pope Francis waves as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square, April 10, 2013.FILE - Pope Francis waves as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square, April 10, 2013.
x
FILE - Pope Francis waves as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square, April 10, 2013.
FILE - Pope Francis waves as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square, April 10, 2013.
The Vatican said Francis was “profoundly touched” by the flood of migrants, and would throw a wreath of flowers into the sea during the visit on July 8 in memory of the many who have drowned off the island.

The pontiff also will meet groups of immigrants who have made the crossing, and will celebrate with Mass in a sports center.

A holding center on Lampedusa built to hold 380 long has been overwhelmed, and its predicament has become a symbol in Europe and Italy for those who see immigration as out of control.

Lampedusa's regular population of about 6,000 frequently has been outnumbered by migrants sleeping in improvised tent encampments dotted around the island, which in normal times thrives on fishing and tourism.

More than 50,000 people arrived there in a surge caused by unrest in North Africa in 2011, and recent good weather has caused another increase in the hundreds arriving each week.

Encyclicals are the highest form of papal writing, and they give the clearest indication of what the pope and the Vatican think about specific social and moral issues. Benedict wrote three encyclicals during his papacy.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs