April 10, 2020
«Thanks for all you do. I would like to tell you that I am always available to help. Count on me. "Pope Francis replied to the letter received on Thursday by Mediterranea Saving Humans, the platform for rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.
Luca Casarini, head of mission, wrote that letter after the latest news from Libya. And yesterday morning Pope Francis wanted to send his answer, written in his own hand, to encourage the volunteers of the humanitarian missions in the Mediterranean.
In the letter, on behalf of all the members of the organization, Casarini had expressed bitterness for all the obstacles posed to humanitarian ships, but above all for the worsening conditions of thousands of people in the prison camps in Libya and in the camps in Greece, where the threat of Coronavirus looms.
"In these terrible days I think about what we do at sea and what we feel when we have the privilege of being able to save our migrant brothers and sisters from death, while the world had its head turned away", reads the text of the Head of Mission of "Rescuemed". With a thought precisely to the pandemic that "forces everyone today to deal with the struggle for life, to ask others for help to save themselves".
And Pope Francis replies with words of affection and gratitude: "Luca, dear brother, thank you very much for your letter", and for "the human piety you have in front of so many pains. Thank you for your testimony, which is so good for me ». Saving the refugees from the imminent drowning, Casarini (investigated and then acquitted together with the commander Pietro Marrone) had confided to the Pope that "he always had the feeling that we were saving ourselves, and actually those defenseless men, women and children were the ones who were saving us. Today everything is clear, transparent like the water of that Mediterranean sea that we want to imagine as the "Great Lake of Tiberias" ».
Since the first operations with the ship Mare Jonio, Mediterranea had asked to have a chaplain, then indicated by several bishops, including Corrado Lorefice (Palermo), Erio Castellucci (Modena) and cardinal Matteo Zuppi (Bologna) in the young Don Mattia Ferrari. Since then, many meetings have followed with numerous Italian and foreign prelates, including Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, the vice president of the CEI Monsignor Antonino Raspanti, Cardinal Jean Claude Hollerich (president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union), Giovanni Ricchiuti (president of Pax Christi Italy), Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (prefect of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide) and Cardinal Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development.
A path that in recent years has involved Catholic parishes, movements and associations in supporting relief operations and for the opening of humanitarian corridors.
At the beginning of December Pope Francis had made an unexpected gesture. When entering the Apostolic Palace from the Cortile del Belvedere, he had a cross made, made with sea water, with a life jacket as a symbol of the many nameless dead drowned in the Mediterranean. The cross was made and donated to the Pope by Mediterranea. The lifebuoy had been recovered at sea on July 3, 2019 by the sailboat Alex, then seized on the basis of the safety decrees - today still in force - , and finally returned at the end of the investigation to the skipper Tommy Stella and the Mediterranean crew. «I decided to display this life jacket, "Crucified" on this cross, to remind us - Pope Francis said - that we must keep our eyes open, keep our hearts open, to remind everyone of the essential commitment to save every human life, a moral duty that unites believers and non-believers». Words summarized yesterday in that renewed one: "Count on me".
THE TEXT OF POPE FRANCIS’ MESSAGE
Luca, dear brother, thank you very much for your letter that Michael brought me.
Thank you for the human piety you feel before so many pains. Thank you for your testimony, which is so good for me.
I am close to you and your companions. Thanks for all you do. I would like to tell You that I am always available to help. Count on me. I wish you a holy Easter. I pray for you, please do it for me.
May the Lord bless You and Our Lady protect You. Fraternally,
THE LETTER OF THE HEAD OF MISSION OF MEDITERRANEA LUCA CASARINI TO THE PONTIFF
Palermo, April 9, 2020
Dear Pope Francis,
I'm Luca Casarini, head of mission of Mediterranea Saving Humans, [...].
In these terrible days I think about what we do at sea and what we feel when we have the privilege of being able to save our migrant brothers and sisters from death, while the world had its head turned away. And look now what happened: the Pandemic forces everyone today to deal with the struggle for life, to ask others for help to save themselves. The contagion showed how the borders made with barbed wires, the tanks, the camps in Libya, the concentration camps in Lesbos, all those borders erected against other human beings, can do nothing in the face of an invisible evil and global. Everyone now, as if it were a sign, are forced to remain locked up, still, not able to embrace loved ones, not even be able to bury them, as happens to the families of migrants who die at sea or in the desert, or killed by traffickers. Today everyone, all over the planet and at the same time, has the opportunity to hear and see if they want, what had become of this world made of exclusion, racism, hatred towards each other.
But this pandemic is not a sign of God. No, it is something that we have produced, because it was within us the inability to face it, the belief that we are safe with money and success, power and technologies, weapons and science. Instead, in order to face this challenge, we are realizing that it takes heart and soul, love, care for our neighbor, which means care for ourselves.
Whenever these moments occur in the history of men, always with arrogance, we think that it is possible immediately to understand their significance, to pigeonhole them, and to mark a simple way out: either Promised Land or catastrophe. We still have not understood that Promised Land and catastrophe always coexist in us. Like Good and Evil. Like the possibility of being better with the condition of being fragile and inadequate. We had not understood that migrants were a prefiguration of what we all are. "Love your neighbor as yourself", today I finally understood why it was pronounced.
I feel in my heart your words to the world, Holy Father: "no one is saved alone". I remember that, recently [...] they seemed like words that only among a few we could share. Today it is no longer so. And finally I understood even more deeply why, saving our brothers and sisters at sea fleeing from Libya and from the horror, I always had the feeling that we were saving ourselves, and actually those defenseless men, women and children were the ones who were saving us. Today everything is clear, transparent like the water of that Mediterranean sea that we want to imagine as the "Great Lake of Tiberias".
I wanted to thank you dear Pope Francis, for having placed the Cross we made with the life jacket found at sea where everyone can see it. That Cross belongs to our Jesus, the one who comes with us on every mission at sea, the one who is afraid with us when the waves are high, the one who is looking at the horizon for whom is alone in the midst of that infinite sea. That Cross belongs to our Jesus, who drowned before we were able to rescue him, leaving behind only that lifejacket for us to find it and bring it to You. That Jesus who cried his name out loudly before disappearing into the waves, so that someone would know where he had died, after a Via Crucis that made him go through suffer and torture. Thanks for showing that Cross to everyone. Thank you. When we recovered that lifejacket at sea, we felt a twinge in our hearts: those were clearly the remains of a migrant who had been shipwrecked, victim of injustice. We felt in our hearts the need to collect that lifejacket: we didn't even know why we picked that up, but we felt we had to give meaning to that life, to the life of that person whose name nobody knows and will never know. We felt in our heart that that unknown migrant was our brother […]. We never expected that one day that jacket would be displayed in the lobby of the Apostolic Palace as a sign for everyone of the "cry of the poor" that rises from the Mediterranean Sea. When we think about it, we still feel the chills: seeing that jacket is now there with you shows us the power of the Gospel, the power of love. Thank you very much, dear Pope Francis.
We are now suffering, thinking of our brothers and sisters who are fleeing from Libya, even in these last few days: more than 600 people, including many children, have been captured by Libyan militias who call themselves "Coast Guard", subsidized by many Nations. They brought them back to the hell of the camps. 150 of them have managed to reach the beaches of Lampedusa, assisted only by their forces and by Our Lord. Another 150 are on board a small ship, which the governments of Europe are denying a port where to dock.
In this situation we want to go back to the sea as soon as possible, because our Jesus needs help.
Forgive me if I bothered you in these busy days but, after following your Urbi et Orbi blessing, I felt in my heart the need to send you my humble thanks, because once again you touched the hearts of all the people of goodwill and made everyone realize that we are one big human family and no one is saved alone.
A big hug Pope Francis. Thanks for everything, always.
Original article from: Avvenire
Nello Scavo has written for Avvenire since 2001. Over the years, he has investigated organized crime and global terrorism, reporting from areas such as the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia and Southeast Asia, the countries of the former USSR, Latin America, the Horn of Africa and the Maghreb. In September 2017 he entered a Libyan migrant smugglers' prison, describing the conditions of the trapped migrants. His books have been translated into 16 languages. His books include La Lista di Bergoglio (2013), Luigi Ciotti, un pretre contre la mafia (2015), I nemici di Francesco (2015) and Perseguitati (2017), Fake Pope. Le false notizie su papa Francesco (2018), A casa loro (2019, co-authored with Giulio Cavalli) and Pescatori di uomini (2020, co-authored with Mattia Ferrari).
His investigations into Pope Francis and his reports on migrants have been mentioned by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde, the BBC, CNN, Clarin, La Nacion, El Pais, and others. In 2018, the Article21 association and the Italian National Press Federation awarded him the Prize for Freedom of Information.