After a meeting with refugees who arrived from the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis put up a life-jacket cross in the Vatican’s Belvedere Courtyard.

Yesterday, Pope Francis met with 33 refugees from the Greek island of Lesbos, brought to Italy by the papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski through the “humanitarian corridor” project coordinated by the Italian Interior Ministry, the Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, and the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy.

“In the Christian tradition the cross is a symbol of suffering and sacrifice but also of redemption and salvation, this cross presents itself as a challenge to look more carefully and to always seek the truth. The unknown migrant, who died hoping for a new life, participates in this victory.”

During the meeting, he unveiled a transparent cross “crucified” with a life jacket that was hung inside the Apostolic Palace near it’s entrance from the Belvedere Courtyard where diplomats and heads of state arrive for audiences with Pope Francis.

Pope Francis said the life jacket was found in the middle of the Mediterranean and belonged to an unknown refugee who died at sea.

“I decided to expose here this life jacket, ‘crucified’ on this cross, to remind us that we must keep our eyes open, keep our hearts open, to remind everyone of the absolute commitment to save every human life, a moral duty that unites believers and non-believers.”

Pope Francis said we have a “binding” moral obligation to save the lives of migrants and refugees, and the Church has an “inescapable commitment … to save the lives of migrants in order to welcome them, protect them, support them and integrate them.”

“We must rescue and save because we are all responsible for the lives of our neighbor and the Lord will ask us to account for them at the moment of judgment.”

He said refugees are victims of injustice, and that we must “denounce and prosecute traffickers who exploit and abuse migrants,” and that “serious efforts must be made … evaluating and implementing all possible solutions.”

“Yes, because it is injustice that forces many migrants to leave their lands. It is injustice that forces them to cross deserts and suffer abuse and torture in detention camps. It is injustice that rejects them and makes them die at sea.”

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