Pope Francis Meets Father of Drowned Boy

Three-Year-Old Died with Mother and Brother During Quest for Freedom

Pope Father Drowned Boy
© Vatican Media

Pope Francis had an emotional meeting with Abdullah Kurdi, the father of the drowned boy Alan Kurdi at the close of the pontiff’s March 7 Mass in Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil, the last major public event in his March 5-8 apostolic journey to Iraq.

Alan drowned with his brother and mother off the Turkish coast in September 2015 while trying to reach Europe. The boy became a symbol of the tragic crossings of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea when a photograph of his tiny body lying face-down in the sand was published on international media and shook the consciences of the world.

A statement released by the Holy See Press Office on Sunday revealed that the Pope was able to converse with Mr. Kurdi with the help of an interpreter at the end of the Mass. “He was able to listen to the father’s pain for the loss of his family and express his and the Lord’s deep participation in the man’s suffering,” the statement said.

Pope Father Drowned Boy
A drawing of Alan Kurdi © Vatican Media

Mr. Kurdi expressed his gratitude to the Pope for his words of closeness to his tragedy and to that of all those migrants who seek understanding, peace, and security when they leave their countries at the risk of their lives. He gave the Holy Father a framed drawing representing his son Alan, reported Vatican News.

Alan and his family, Syrians of Kurdish origin had embarked on a small rubber dinghy, with some 20 other migrants. in the Turkish town of Bodrum.

The boat reportedly capsized near the Greek island of Coo during the night of September 2, 2015.  Alan, his brother Galib and his mother were buried together the following day.

The Holy Father has been a consistent advocate for the rights of people who migrate to find a better life. His theme for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees to be celebrated on Sunday, September 26, 2021, is Towards an ever wider “we”.