Migrants reaching Spain by sea up 120 percent

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on the influx of migrants into Europe (all times local):

2 p.m.

France’s Constitutional Council has issued a decision in the case of a farmer convicted for helping migrants who entered the country illegally, saying “fraternity” is a principle “of constitutional value” and should not be prosecuted.

French activist farmer Cedric Herrou had assisted some 200 migrants, housing some in his farm in the Alps’ Roya valley and others in a disused building, while also helping them travel in France. He was convicted last year of helping migrants illegally cross the border from Italy and given a suspended four-month prison sentence and a fine.

The Council’s decision issued Friday said France’s motto of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” meant there was freedom “to assist others for a humanitarian purpose” regardless of the legality of their presence in the country.

11:35 a.m.

Pope Francis is celebrating a special Mass for migrants in St. Peter’s Basilica, calling attention to their plight and inviting them to the Vatican as Europe, the U.S. and other countries increasingly close their doors to them.

Several migrants and representatives of aid groups that care for them were among the guests at the intimate Mass marking the fifth anniversary of Francis’ landmark visit to Lampedusa, the Sicilian island that for years was the primary destination of migrants smuggled from Libya.

During that trip the new pope denounced what he called the “globalization of indifference” shown by the world to migrants escaping war, poverty and climate-induced natural disasters.

This article provided by NewsEdge.