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Pope goes to Marseille to speak migration, however will Europe hear because it scrambles to stem an inflow?

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VATICAN CITY — Ten years after Pope Francis made a landmark go to to the Italian island of Lampedusa to point out solidarity with migrants, he’s becoming a member of Catholic bishops from the Mediterranean this weekend in France to make the decision extra united.

The query is whether or not anybody in European corridors of energy will hear, as they scramble to stem a brand new tide of would-be refugees setting off from Africa.

Francis’ in a single day go to Friday to the French port metropolis of Marseille to shut out a gathering of Mediterranean bishops was scheduled months in the past. Nevertheless it comes as Europe’s migrant downside is as soon as once more making headlines, given the practically 7,000 migrants who got here ashore on Lampedusa inside a day final week, briefly outnumbering the resident inhabitants.

The drama has sparked one other spherical of hand-wringing and pledges of solidarity from European capitals, with even discuss of a naval blockade to forestall departures. It is a coverage Francis has lengthy condemned on condition that an EU-funded operation to return migrants to Libya lands them in what Francis has referred to as modern-day focus camps.

For Francis, the stunning scenes of males, ladies and kids packed right into a refugee heart in Lampedusa have underscored that migration as a phenomenon have to be tackled collectively. The longer term, he mentioned this previous weekend about his upcoming journey to Marseille, “will solely be affluent whether it is constructed on fraternity, placing human dignity, actual individuals and particularly essentially the most needy, first.”

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Francis has lengthy made the plight of migrants a precedence of his papacy, ranging from that outstanding 2013 go to to Lampedus, his first as pope. There, Francis celebrated Mass on an altar made from shipwrecked wooden, tossed flowers within the sea in tribute to migrants who had drowned and decried the “globalization of indifference” that the world reveals individuals who danger their lives to flee poverty, battle and local weather disasters to hunt a greater life.

Since then, he has made another high-profile gestures to attract consideration to the Gospel-mandated name to welcome strangers, most spectacularly when he introduced again a dozen Syrian Muslims aboard his aircraft following a 2016 go to to a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece. His mantra: Welcome, defend, promote and combine, with the final exhortation an acknowledgement that governments have limits of their skills to just accept newcomers and actually combine them properly.

“The message that he’s conveying is that the Mediterranean is our accountability,” mentioned Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Vatican’s high migration skilled and himself a refugee. “In different phrases, you may’t take a look at it as every one has a little bit of shoreline and is answerable for that bit. There’s a collective accountability which is basically being uncared for.”

In Marseille, one of the crucial multicultural, multi-religious and multiethnic cities on the shores of the Mediterranean, the pontiff can be joined by round 60 bishops from North Africa, the Center East, Balkans and southern Europe, together with younger individuals from these areas. It’s the third Mediterranean summit of its form after the primary two had been held in Italy.

The situation will not be coincidental. Marseille for hundreds of years has been characterised by a robust presence of migrants residing collectively in a practice of tolerance, regardless that immediately France’s second metropolis can be identified for its excessive crime and unemployment charges, poverty and lack of social providers.

In contrast to many different French cities the place foreigners are inclined to dwell on the outskirts, in Marseille migrants and their descendants of a wide range of backgrounds – Italians, Spaniards and Armenians from Europe; individuals from France’s former colonies in North Africa, West Africa and the Comoros Islands — have settled within the metropolis heart, opening outlets and eating places that contribute to town’s status as a melting pot.

“Marseilles is certainly like a metropolis that embodies this variety of France,” mentioned Camille Le Coz, affiliate director of Migration Coverage Institute’s Europe workplace, in Paris. “This nice custom of migration, but additionally a metropolis that’s concentrating so many difficulties when it comes to entry to public providers, insecurity, drug trafficking. It’s a really difficult place.”

One of many highlights of Francis’ journey can be an interfaith prayer Friday at a Marseille monument devoted to sailors who died at sea, on this case honoring the 28,000 migrants estimated by the Worldwide Group of Migration who’ve drowned within the Mediterranean since 2014 making an attempt to succeed in Europe.

The encounter will convey collectively leaders of Marseille’s numerous religion teams – Muslims, Jews, Armenian and Orthodox Christians, and Roman Catholics — and can characteristic testimony of migrants, rescue teams and the pope. The audio system’ checklist suggests a united voice to name for a tradition of tolerance in direction of migrants, and lament that the Mediterranean has turn out to be, in Francis’ phrases, “the world’s largest cemetery.”

The query is whether or not anybody in energy will hear. President Emmanuel Macron, whose authorities has shifted rightward on migration and safety points, will be part of Francis on Saturday and is slated to attend his huge Mass on the Velodrome. The centrist president has taken a agency stance on migration after coming beneath criticism from conservatives and the far proper. He’s pushing to strengthen the EU’s exterior borders and desires the bloc to be extra environment friendly in deporting these refused entry.

In consequence, France’s present political local weather and its custom of “laicite” or secularism, suggests neither Macron nor different European leaders will essentially heed Francis’ name.

“I feel given our difficult relationship with the church and with faith, we don’t count on this to have a lot influence, to be trustworthy,” Le Coz mentioned.

Jeffery Crisp, a analysis fellow at Oxford College’s Refugee Research Centre, mentioned Francis does have an ethical authority and has been wielding it to talk out the problem of migration, calling particularly on governments to respect worldwide human rights rules.

“Does that translate into any form of political strain? I merely don’t know,” Crisp requested in a phone interview. “However I feel you possibly can in all probability argue that it might solely have been worse with out his interventions.”

Younger males who arrived in Italy amid the current wave of migrants hope somebody will hear. On a current day, a bunch of younger males from South Sudan stopped in Rome en route from Lampedusa in direction of the French border. One notably tall man mentioned he needed to go to France to play basketball, one other mentioned he needed to go to Britain to be a physician. Their solely belongings had been the garments on their backs; volunteers gave them footwear.

After spending just a few nights sleeping on the bottom under a loud freeway overpass close to Rome’s major bus station, a non-profit affiliation purchased them low-cost bus tickets north. That night, 16 boys left on a bus certain for Marseille.

They had been planning to get off earlier than the French border, the place police checks have reportedly elevated amid Italy’s new inflow, and to attempt to cross on foot. One among them, a 16-year-old named Dot, was carrying new yellow Converse sneakers supplied by volunteers.

“We walked from South Sudan,” Dot mentioned earlier than boarding. “We will stroll to France.”


Related Press faith protection receives help via the AP’s collaboration with The Dialog US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely answerable for this content material.

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