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Pope heads to Sicily to pray with new migrants

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July 7, 2013 12:28 PM EST | AP


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis heads Monday to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa for his first pastoral visit outside Rome, going to the farthest reaches of Italy to pray with migrants who have recently arrived and mourn those who have died trying.

Francis, a pope from "the end of the Earth" whose ancestors immigrated to Argentina from Italy, has a special place in his heart for refugees: As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he denounced the exploitation of migrants as "slavery" and said those who did nothing to stop it were complicit by their silence.

On Monday, he will arrive at Lampedusa's port by boat and will throw a floral wreath into the sea in memory of those who died trying to reach the island, which is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland.