'Pope Francis on Sunday urged EU leaders to show "concrete solidarity" with 49 refugees stranded on NGO ships off the coast of Malta who have been refused permission to land.
But both Italy and Malta, who have refused port access to the rescue ships, on Sunday reiterated their positions.
"Forty-nine migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by two NGO ships have been onboard for several days now, waiting to be able to disembark," Francis told thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's square in Rome.
"I address a pressing appeal to European leaders that they show some concrete solidarity with respect to these people."
The European Commission also urged EU member states to admit them earlier this week as concern grows over their plight, with some of the refugees stranded at sea for more than two weeks.
This is not the first time the Argentinian pope, himself descended from Italian immigrants, has appealed to European leaders to open their borders.
But there was no sign of Italy changing its policy.
"In Italy, no more people are arriving," far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told the Sunday paper Il Messaggero. "That's the line and it will not change."
And he rammed the message home on Twitter, saying "Italy's ports are and will stay closed."
Read more: Pope urges EU leaders to show solidarity with migrants off Malta
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