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Europe's Border Crisis

Pope Francis: Crimes Against Refugees ‘Offend the Entire Human Family’

Pope Francis asked the faithful Sunday to work together to prevent crimes against people who are forced to flee their home countries in search of a better life.

The pontiff made his remarks and urged prayers at St. Peter's Square in Rome three days after the decomposed bodies of 71 refugees were discovered in a truck on a highway in Austria.

Francis prayed for God "to help us to cooperate effectively to prevent these crimes, which offend the entire human family."

The pope pointed out to the faithful that "even today ... the Middle East and other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted." He made an appeal to leaders, saying it was beneficial for governments to "guarantee religious freedom" and "put an end to violence and oppression."

The pope prayed specifically for the 71 refugees — including four children — found in the truck. "We entrust each of them to the mercy of God," the pope said, noting that Vienna's cardinal was in attendance.

A fifth suspect was arrested Sunday in connection with the refugees' deaths, according to Reuters.