Pope Francis meets with French President Emmanuel Macron (right) at the Palais Faro in the southern port city of Marseille on September 23, 2023. Photo ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP
Pope Francis began Saturday by meeting disadvantaged people on the second day of his visit to Marseille, which will end with a ride in the “popemobile” and a giant mass at the Stade Velodrome after renewed condemnation of the fate of migrants.
After a night in the archbishopric of France’s second city, Francis went early in the morning to the Missionaries of Charity, an order founded by Mother Teresa, in Saint-Maur, a very poor area near the city center, where nuns provide social assistance.
“Meeting the Pope is something magnificent. In our area, life is hard, difficult, but with the will of God and the prayers of the Pope today in Marseille, he will give hope and hope to all suffering people.” ,” Arbana Arifaj, originally from Albania, who attended the meeting, told AFP.
“I am glad to be here,” the Pope said in French upon his arrival. Before continuing in Italian: “I am happy to see people holding hands in a gesture of brotherhood. I’m on the right, on the left, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we are all brothers. Too often our civilization takes the lead. we live as strangers or enemies. This is a prophecy to live as brothers. We are all brothers, regardless of political or religious thoughts.” There are echoes of his remarks on Friday, when upon arrival he lambasted the “fear” and “indifference” to the plight of migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean. Strong words in the context of growing hostility in Europe towards expulsion candidates and even as a new wave of arrivals on the Italian island of Lampedusa has prompted the European Union to urge its members to show solidarity through an emergency plan to help Rome manage migration flows. from North Africa.
France “will not welcome migrants” from Lampedusa, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who will soon introduce a new immigration law, warned on Tuesday. After his visit to Saint-Maurt, the 86-year-old Pope must close the “Mediterranean Meetings”, the official event of his visit, which for a week brought together 70 bishops and as many young people from all over this sea, marked by the presence of three major monotheistic religions.
He will speak on the challenges facing the region and is expected to return at length to migration issues. It will also be the occasion for an interview later in the morning with President Emmanuel Macron, who for his part is not expected to speak. Shortly after 15:00 (1300 GMT), amid an “emergency” security system mobilizing 6,000 police officers and a thousand private security agents, the Pope will head towards another Marseille icon. The Stade Vélodrome, home of Olympique de Marseille, was transformed into a giant cathedral during the Mass.
His trip, the first by a pope to Marseille in nearly 500 years, is causing excitement, and Francis will make part of the trip in a “popemobile” along the ornate Avenue du Prado, one of the city’s main thoroughfares leading to the sea. in the yellow and white colors of the Vatican. According to the municipality and organizers, about 100,000 people are expected along the route. And nearly 60,000 others received their personalized tickets, precious tickets to the mammoth mass at the stadium that less than 48 hours earlier had hosted France’s Rugby World Cup XV.
Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte will take part in the service, which is scheduled for 16:00. A presence that offended, in particular, left-leaning elected officials who accused the president of “trampling” the principles of secularism. To which the Elysee Council responded that he would attend the mass not “as a believer,” but “as the head of state.” The Pope will then immediately leave Marseille for Rome after a final brief interview with Emmanuel Macron at the airport.
Source: L Orient Le Jour
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