Pope Francis denies Europe’s migrant emergency at Rencontres Mediterraneennes

Pope Francis on Saturday called on French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders to open ports to people fleeing hardship and poverty, saying the continent faces a migration “emergency.” Instead, he argued, governments are faced with long-term realities that must be addressed humanely.

In the French port city of Marseille, Francis for the second day in a row used “alarmist propaganda” to justify closing doors to migrants and shamed people into responding with charity instead. attacked European countries that tried to

He called for migrants to be given a legal path to citizenship and for the Mediterranean Sea, which many cross to reach Europe, to become a beacon of hope rather than a grave of despair.

Francis told Macron and a gathering of regional bishops that the Mediterranean “exudes wealth, consumerism and extravagance on the one hand, while on the other it cries out for justice with poverty and unstable coasts.”

The Pope’s visit to the southern French city, which drew an estimated 150,000 well-wishers on Saturday, comes as Italy’s far-right-led government has responded to a new wave of migrants by organizing a naval blockade of Tunisia and threatening to further strengthen it. It was held inside. Repatriation.

The French government has stepped up patrols at its southern border to prevent migrants from crossing into Italy.

Pope Francis arrives at the final meeting of the Mediterranean Conference held at the Pharo Palace and is greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

After the bishops’ conference, President Macron and President Francis held a 30-minute closed-door meeting. The two leaders spoke about immigration and a range of other topics, the French president’s office said, adding that they shared a “common will” to bring a human solution to the situation.

The French president’s office said France is a “host country” for migrants, especially asylum seekers, and supports European solidarity policies, including through funding and the fight against human trafficking. The Vatican did not disclose the content of the meeting.

Macron’s centrist government has taken a tougher stance on immigration and security issues, following criticism from France’s conservatives and far-right wing. Ahead of next year’s European Union parliamentary elections, President Macron is calling on the EU to strengthen its external borders and more efficiently deport individuals who are refused entry.

People waiting for Pope Francis' arrival "velodrome stadium"Saturday, September 23, 2023, in Marseille, France to celebrate Mass.
People wait for the arrival of Pope Francis to celebrate Mass at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille, France, Saturday, September 23, 2023.

Macron met Francis on a wind-swept promenade overlooking Marseille’s old port and helped him enter the Palais des Pharos for the Mediterranean bishops’ conference.

The French leader, with his wife by his side, listened as young Italian volunteers working in Greece and the Albanian bishop of Tirana, who fled to Italy during Albania’s communist rule, spoke about the reception he received abroad.

“May we be moved by the stories of our many unfortunate brothers and sisters who have both the right to migrate and the right not to migrate, and not be closed off in indifference,” Francisco said. “In the face of the terrible scourge of human exploitation, the solution is not to refuse, but to ensure a sufficient number of legal and regular entry points according to each possibility.”

Francisco’s two-day trip was scheduled months ago, but it comes as mass migration to Europe is once again in the headlines. Nearly 7,000 migrants who boarded a smuggling boat in Tunisia landed on the small Italian island of Lampedusa within a day last week, temporarily outnumbering the resident population.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Pope Francis meet at Pharo Palace
French President Emmanuel Macron and Pope Francis met at the Pharo Palace.

Nevertheless, Francisco said talk of a migration “emergency” only fuels “alarmist propaganda” and stokes people’s fears.

“People who risk their lives at sea don’t come in. They risk their lives to be welcomed,” he said. “When it comes to emergencies, the phenomenon of migration is more of a short-term emergency than a constant alarmist propaganda foment, but it is the reality of our time.”

In addition to Macron, the pope’s audience on Saturday included European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, and Gerard, who said France would not accept new migrants from Lampedusa. French Interior Minister Darmanin also attended.

The French president and first lady Brigitte Macron then attended Francis’ final mass at the Marseille velodrome. An estimated 50,000 people gathered for the mass, and a huge banner of the pope hung in the stands.

The Vatican said local organizers said an additional 100,000 people lined Prado in central Marseille and cheered as the pope’s car passed by.

During his two-day visit, Francis will join Catholic bishops from the Mediterranean region in discussions that will mainly focus on migration.
During his two-day visit, Francis will take part in discussions with Catholic bishops from the Mediterranean region, mainly focused on migration.

The first Latin American pope in history has made the plight of immigrants a priority during his 10-year papacy. On his first visit as pope, he visited Lampedusa to commemorate the migrants who drowned while trying to cross the sea.

Since then, he has celebrated Mass on the U.S.-Mexico border, met with Rohingya refugees in Myanmar, visited a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, and then made his dedication visible by flying home. Ta.

Migrants and their supporters in Marseille, which has a long tradition of multicultural hospitality, said Francis’ call for charity and a path to citizenship is a sign that at least someone in Europe sympathizes with their plight. He said that it gave him hope.

French President Emmanuel Macron (center) and his wife Brigitte (left) listen to Pope Francis' final conference address. "Encontre Méditerranenne" meeting
French President Emmanuel Macron (center) and his wife Brigitte (left) listen to Pope Francis’ speech at the final session of the Mediterranean Conference.

“This is a very great opportunity for us,” said Frankie Domingo, a member of a Marseille-based association representing migrants seeking official identification documents. “We really want the Pope to be our voice against politicians because European immigration policies are very repressive for us immigrants.”

Stéphanie Tomasini, 48, a Marseille resident who attended the mass, said the pope sent an important message. “We have to be able to…reach out and share. We all should. Today we are not facing hardship, but tomorrow we may be.” “You’re sexual and you want someone to open the door for you,” she said.

Many believers have traveled from all over France to see the pope, but the last time he visited the country was almost 10 years ago. Catherine Etienne, from Brest in western France, watched Francis’ parade with joy. “We are really happy to meet the Pope. We are very moved,” she said.

Pope Francis kisses baby on arrival "velodrome stadium"located in Marseille, France
Pope Francis kisses a baby as he arrives at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille, France.

In his remarks, Francis also reiterated his opposition to euthanasia, which he has long criticized as a symptom of a “throwaway culture” that treats the elderly and infirm as essential.

He cited euthanasia as a “social evil” and criticized supporters of assisted suicide for “falsely pretending that it is saltier than sea water and a dignified and ‘sweet’ death.”

The issue is currently at play in France, where Mr Macron is expected to unveil a bill to legalize end-of-life options in the country in the coming weeks. French media reported that he had delayed introducing the bill until after the pope’s visit to avoid disturbing sensitive topics.

Details of the government’s proposals have not been made public, but some include legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia for adult patients with incurable illnesses, with strict conditions guaranteeing free and informed consent. Options are being considered.

The French president’s office said Francis and Macron discussed the issue in bilateral talks, but did not go into details.

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