Pope Francis will journey to southern France on Friday for a two-day go to within the port metropolis of Marseille, the place he’s anticipated to satisfy with President Emmanuel Macron and defend the plight of migrants making an attempt dangerous Mediterranean crossings to Europe.
Francis will attend the closing session of the Mediterranean Meetings, a weeklong gathering of about 70 bishops, youth activists and representatives of different religions from across the Mediterranean Sea, and he has careworn repeatedly that his journey just isn’t an official state go to.
“I’ll go to Marseille, however to not France,” Francis said in August. “There’s a downside that considerations me, which is the Mediterranean.” He added that “the exploitation of migrants is prison.”
Nonetheless, sizzling on the heels of a state visit by King Charles III of Britain, who was headed to Bordeaux on Friday, Mr. Macron has seized the chance for a gathering with the pontiff.
Migration, Francis told 1000’s of devoted gathered in St. Peter’s Sq. final week, “represents a problem that isn’t simple, as we additionally see from the information in latest days, however which should be confronted collectively.”
Ms. de Gaulmyn stated that “politicians like to be seen with the pope,” particularly Mr. Macron, a political disrupter who has lengthy been fascinated with Francis’ willingness to shake things up within the church.
Assembly the pope, an ethical authority on the problem of migration, “may also assist him lean leftward a bit,” Ms. de Gaulmyn stated of Mr. Macron, a centrist whose authentic pitch to voters was that he transcended conventional political divisions however who typically tilts proper.
Shortly after his arrival in Marseille on Friday afternoon, Francis is anticipated to go to the Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica, which overlooks town. He’ll lead a prayer there, adopted by an interfaith second of remembrance at a monument for sailors and migrants misplaced at sea.
Since 2014, over 28,000 migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to succeed in Europe have been recorded lifeless or lacking, according to the Worldwide Group for Migration, a United Nations company. There have been practically 180,000 sea arrivals in 2023 up to now, according to the United Nations refugee company.
Francis’ go to is necessary, Mr. Thomas stated, as a result of he is without doubt one of the few international leaders who has unequivocally defended the plight of migrants.
“He has all the time had a message of solidarity, of fraternity on this concern and on the Mediterranean tragedy,” he stated. “We’ve got to have the braveness to say that we are able to’t let folks drown at Europe’s doorways.”
However immigration has turn into a political flashpoint for European governments, particularly these dealing with robust far-right events.
Gérald Darmanin, Mr. Macron’s inside minister, stated this week that France would assist handle the movement of migrants arriving in Lampedusa however wouldn’t soak up any. He stated many had been from international locations like Senegal and Gambia and had no professional claims to asylum.
“We have to combat unlawful immigration in Europe, in France and in Italy, and we aren’t going to stem a movement — which impacts our integration skills — by taking in additional folks,” Mr. Darmanin told TF1 television. However he additionally insisted that France would welcome asylum seekers in the event that they match the fitting standards.
Marseille is a port metropolis formed by immigration from European international locations like Italy, Spain and Armenia in addition to from France’s former African colonies. It’s tormented by pockets of maximum poverty, strained social providers and deadly violence related to drug trafficking, however it’s also one in every of France’s most cosmopolitan cities, a predominantly working-class mixture of ethnic and spiritual communities.
On Saturday, Francis will meet with Mr. Macron earlier than driving to the stadium, the Vélodrome, to rejoice Mass. About 100,000 individuals are anticipated to observe the ceremony on large screens exterior.
It’s not unusual for French leaders to attend spiritual ceremonies reminiscent of funerals, however Mr. Macron would be the first French president to attend a papal Mass since 1980, when Valéry Giscard d’Estaing attended one celebrated by Pope John Paul II in Paris.
France has a robust custom of secularism, and Mr. Macron’s anticipated presence on the ceremony is ruffling some feathers — particularly after a contentious decision to ban the full-length gown worn by some Muslim college students in faculties.
“No, Mr. President, it’s not your house to go to the Pope’s mass,” Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leftist chief, said on X, the social media platform previously referred to as Twitter. “The secular state neither acknowledges nor subsidizes any faith.”
The French presidency identified that Mr. Macron had attended different spiritual occasions as president, like an iftar dinner organized by Muslim organizations. And he has insisted that he is not going to take part within the Mass.
“I received’t go as a Catholic; I’ll go because the president of the French Republic,” Mr. Macron stated final week, including: “I’ll exit of courtesy and respect.”
Elisabetta Povoledo contributed reporting from Rome.