Pope Francis lamented Saturday the tragedies that have caused the death of hundreds of immigrants so far this year in the Mediterranean, and called on European institutions to be more generous when dealing with refugees.

"I hope the competent institutions, especially in Europe, will be more courageous and generous when dealing with refugees," the pope said, according to a communique from the Holy See.

These were the Argentine pontiff's words in a message to the archbishop of Agrigento, Sicily, Francesco Montenegro, on the occasion of the anniversary of the pope's visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa in July 2013.

In his message, the bishop of Rome regretted the tragedy that struck last October in Lampedusa, where 366 immigrants lost their lives when the barge in which they were sailing was shipwrecked in the Strait of Sicily.

"The immigration problem is getting worse and other tragedies unfortunately occur at an astonishing rate. Our hearts tire of accepting the death of those who suffer exhausting jouneys to flee from tragedies, from poverty, from wars and from conflicts often linked to international politics," he said.

"This tragedy must be confronted, not with the logic of indifference, but with that of hospitality and of the common good in order to protect and promote the dignity of every human being," the pope said. EFE