Plight of immigrants 'makes one cry,' says Pope Francis on visit to Turin

Pope Francis said the mistreatment of migrants escaping war and injustice "makes one cry" during a visit to the northern Italian city of Turin. 

The pontiff was speaking after stopping to pray before what some believe is Jesus' burial cloth. The Church has not taken an official position, saying the mysterious cloth known as the Shroud of Turin that has baffled scientists is at least a powerful reminder of Jesus' suffering.

After saying Mass for 60,000 people, Francis said the Shroud should spur people to reflect not only on Jesus but also on "the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person."

Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is himself from an immigrant family, his grandparents and father having emigrated to Argentina from an area near Turin.

In his morning address to thousands of workers and unemployed people, he urged his listeners to help the 10 percent of the city's population living in absolute poverty, although they were going through hard times themselves.

"Immigration increases competition but migrants should not be blamed because they are the victims of injustice, of this throw-away economy, of wars.”

In an off-the-cuff statement, the pontiff remarked: "It makes one cry to see the spectacle of these days in which human beings have been treated like merchandise."

Francis has made immigration a top priority of his papacy. His first trip in 2013 was to the southern island of Lampedusa to pay tribute to the thousands of migrants who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Italy's right-wing Northern League, which has won votes from people who say migrants take resources from a long-stagnant economy, is very strong in the neighbouring Lombardy and Veneto regions.

France and Austria have stepped up border controls on migrants from Italy, turning back hundreds and leaving many camped out in train stations in Rome and Milan.