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Nov 22, 2019 / 09:29

Pope Francis prays for 39 Vietnamese lorry victims in UK

Pope Francis said human trafficking in its multiple forms, is a wound in the humanity of those who endure it and those who commit it.

Pope Francis offered prayers for 39 Vietnamese migrants who died last month on the way to the UK in search for a better life, according to Catholic News Service.

 Pope Francis offers prayers. Photo: BBC

“Finally, together with you, I entrust to the Lord, the merciful father, the 39 Vietnamese migrants who died in England last month. It was heartbreaking; let us all pray for them,” the pope said in a video message released November 20 by the Vatican.

The pope’s prayers came in a message to young Catholics in Vietnam nearly a month after the victims, 31 men and 8 women, were found dead on October 23 in a refrigerated truck in Essex, England.

On November 7, Essex police published the names of all 39 victims whose ages ranged from 15 to 44.

Currently, Vietnamese authorities are working with British agencies to coordinate the repatriation of their bodies which might be brought home for burial or after cremation.

Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on November 21 that the government of Vietnam is making efforts to bring the victims home soon.

Women in Vietnam's central province of Nghe An hold candles for the victims found dead in Essex, UK. Photo: Reuters 

In his message to Vietnamese youths, who were participating at a Youth Day organized on November 19-20 by Vietnam’s northern dioceses, Pope Francis reflected on the event’s theme, “Go to your home, to your family.”

The pope said in Vietnamese culture, the word “home” includes “everything that is most dear in the hearts of a person, not only family and relatives but also one’s birthplace and homeland.”

Home, he added, also includes one’s faith and that, in virtue of their baptism, Catholics are “inheritors of another ‘home’ that is much bigger, namely the church. The church is a home, it is your home.”

“Do not be afraid to make your beautiful Catholic identity shine,” he said. “This will make you even more patriotic, more Vietnamese (with a) great love for your country, a great loyalty as patriots.”

Francis has highlighted the plight of migrants and denounced human trafficking as a “crime against humanity.”