VATICAN CITY, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Pope Francis urged people to work together to prevent crimes against refugees three days after the decomposing bodies of 71 migrants were found within a truck in Austria.
Francis urged for prayers and made remarks at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Sunday.
The pontiff prayed for God “to help us to cooperate effectively to prevent these crimes, which offend the entire human family.”
Francis also prayed specifically for the 71 dead migrants found within the abandoned refrigerated food truck in Austria.
“We entrust each of them to the mercy of God,” the pope said, adding that the cardinal from Vienna was also in attendance.
Francis told his faithful that “even today… the Middle East and other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted,” adding that it was beneficial to world leaders and governments to “guarantee religious freedom” and “put an end to violence and oppression.”
The pope is scheduled to visit the United States in September, where he will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in the White House.
“During the visit, the president and the pope will continue the dialogue… on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues — caring for the marginalized and the poor; advancing economic opportunity for all; serving as good stewards of the environment; protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world; and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities,” according to a White House statement.