Pope visits multicultural Marseille as some in Europe talk of blockades to curb migration

by | Sep 22, 2023 | Religion

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The French port city of Marseille, for centuries a multiethnic and multifaith melting pot, awaited the arrival Friday of Pope Francis, who plans to amplify his call for the Mediterranean region of Europe to be a place of welcome for migrants.The pope’s position on migration is an increasingly lonely one in Europe, where some countries are emphasizing border fences, repatriations and the possibility of a naval blockade to keep a new influx of would-be refugees out.
Francis is presiding over the closing session of a gathering of Mediterranean Catholic bishops, but his two-day visit to Marseille is aimed at sending a message well beyond the Catholic faithful to Europe, North Africa and beyond.
After a prayer at the southern French city’s basilica, Francis is scheduled to hold an interfaith prayer at a monument dedicated to those who have died at sea — a number estimated to top 28,000 since 2014, according to the International Organization of Migration.
Francis, who has long lamented that the Mediterranean Sea has become “the world’s biggest cemetery,” confirmed his visit months ago, but it comes as Italy is again seeing an increasing number of people who set off in flimsy boats from Tunisia.
After the new arrivals last week on the island of Lampedusa briefly exceeded the resident population of 6,100, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni resurrected calls for a naval blockade and announced new centers to hold those who don’t qualify for asylum until they can be sent home.
France, for its part, beefed up patrols at its southern border with Italy, a few hours’ drive …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This