"Some months ago I saw a newspaper headline about a small town in Italy which read, 'this is the town where there were the most rapes this year -- I can't remember which town, it's not important -- and 40 per cent of the rapists were migrants'," the pontiff said.
"This is a way of 'denigrating' migrants. But I ask myself -- so, the other 60 per cent, what were they? Italians.
"There is a way of presenting things which modifies the truth," he said, while receiving participants at a Vatican day of prayer and reflection.
The issue of migration is currently a burning issue with Italians shocked by the recent murder of an 18-year-old woman in the central town of Macerata, leading to the arrest of three Nigerians suspected of involvement after her dismembered body was found.
Following the murder, a far-right gunmen then shot and wounded six Africans in a racially-motivated attack on February 3.
The incident came just weeks before Italy holds a general election in which far-right parties are expected to make a strong showing while immigration has been the dominant campaign issue.
Whereas the Macerata killing and its alleged connection to migrants has hit the headlines, other similarly sordid incidents ascribed to Italian perpetrators have generally received less widespread attention.
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