Pope Francis visits Mediterranean Marseille amid migrant crisis

    WORLD  23 September 2023 - 01:02

    Pope Francis visited the French port city of Marseille with the aim of emphasizing the importance of the Mediterranean region of Europe being a place of welcome for migrants.

    As reported by Vatican News, Pope Francis' stance on migration stands in contrast to the policies of some European countries that are increasingly focused on border security measures, repatriations, and even the possibility of naval blockades to prevent new waves of refugees.

    During his visit, Pope Francis presided over the closing session of a gathering of Mediterranean Catholic bishops but intended to convey a broader message to Europe, North Africa, and beyond.

    The Argentinian head of the catholic church, who has long lamented that the Mediterranean Sea has become “the world’s biggest cemetery”, began his visit with a prayer at the basilica in Marseille and later held an interfaith prayer at a monument dedicated to those who have tragically lost their lives at sea, estimated to be over 28,000 since 2014, according to the International Organization of Migration.

    The timing of his visit is significant, coming shortly after an influx of migrants arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa, causing concerns about overcrowding. The publication recalls, that Italy's Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, revived discussions about a naval blockade and announced plans for new facilities to detain individuals who do not qualify for asylum until their repatriation can be arranged.

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