The Vatican

Pope travels to Marseille to support inclusion of migrants

Pope Francis will make an apostolic journey to Marseille from September 22-23, 2023 to conclude the third edition of the "Mediterranean Meetings".

Federico Piana-September 18, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes

The Pope greets refugees in Greece, 2016 ©CNS photo/Paul Haring.

To promote paths "of peace, collaboration and integration around the mare nostrum, with particular attention to the phenomenon of migration". This is how Pope Francis defined yesterday, after the Angelus, the main objective of the initiative. Rencontres Méditerranéenneswhich opened a few days ago in Marseilles and which the Pontiff will conclude with a speech on September 23. The "Mediterranean Encounters"The program, with the participation of 120 young people of all religions, the Catholic bishops of all the countries bordering the Mediterranean and representatives of other Christian denominations and religious faiths, is full of elements for reflection: from interreligious round tables to moments of prayer, from the youth festival to cultural visits and theatrical performances.

Journey of hope

To the French city defined by the Pontiff himself as "a city rich in peoples, called to be a port of hope", Francis will arrive on the eve of the completion of the works, on Friday, September 22. After being received by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, the Pope, as a first gesture of faith, will go to the basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde for Marian prayer with the diocesan clergy. Immediately afterwards, also in the afternoon, the Pontiff will meet with the leaders of other religions for a moment of recollection before the memorial dedicated to the sailors and migrants lost at sea.

Perhaps it will be one of the central moments of the entire journey that will serve to underline, as the Pope has repeatedly said, "that the phenomenon of migration represents a challenge that is not easy, as we see also in the chronicles of these days, but which must be faced together, because it is essential for the future of all, which will be prosperous only if it is built on fraternity, putting in first place human dignity, the concrete persons, especially those most in need". For this reason, the Pontiff's speech scheduled for the conclusion of the "Mediterranean Meetings" can certainly be considered a "road map" capable of helping to understand how aid and solidarity are the only way to face a radical epochal change that is affecting the whole world.

Following in the footsteps of Bari and Florence

The Rencontres Méditerranéennes Marseille meetings do not come out of the blue. They are the fruit of two previous similar meetings: the first was held in Bari in 2020, the second took place in Florence in 2022. It could be said, in essence, that reflection on the challenges of the Mediterranean basin has never stopped. Dialogue between bishops, public administrators, different religious leaders and young people of all faiths and cultures has become the driving force behind what has now become an effective mode of action. An action for the common good.

The authorFederico Piana

 Journalist. He works for Vatican Radio and collaborates with L'Osservatore Romano.

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