ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has prayed for migrants in a special Mass, saying they are people and not just a social issue.
The Mass, celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica on Monday, marked the sixth anniversary of the pope's visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa on July 8, 2013.
Francis had been pope for only four months when he made the surprise visit, his first pastoral visit outside Rome.
The island, halfway between Sicily and the North African coast, has become one of the main European points of entry for migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
The pope said "they are persons. These are not mere social or migrant issues. They are the symbol of all those rejected by today's globalized society."