During his visit to Marseille, the Pontiff is expected to address the issue of migration, a common thread running through his pontificate since his trip to the island of Lampedusa shortly after his election in 2013. Speaking about his visit to Marseille on September 17, the Pontiff alluded to the thousands of migrants who have recently landed on the small Italian island, which has been the center of media attention in recent days.
The migration issue is a challenge which is “essential for the future of all, which will be prosperous only if it is built on fraternity,” he warned. He also called for political action to put “human dignity and real people, especially those most in need, in first place.”
Another key aspect of the Pope’s thinking on migration was recalled in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be celebrated on September 24.
In it, the Pope also defends the “right not to migrate,” inviting us to tackle the tragedy of migration by getting to the roots of the problem.
The Pope’s statement on this subject did not raise any eyebrows in France, the host country of the “Mediterranean Meetings” event in Marseille, during which migration is one of the topics to be discussed. The Pope is seen as “a valuable support” for France in finding a European solution to migration issues.
The question of euthanasia
But another controversial issue is likely to come to the fore during this trip: euthanasia. The French bill authorizing “active assistance in dying” was due to be presented at the end of the summer, but was postponed until after the Pope’s visit. The French government has claimed that the Pontiff’s visit had nothing to do with the postponement, which was apparently due to parliamentary scheduling issues.
During his visit to Portugal last July, the Argentine Pope did not hesitate to speak of the recent law decriminalizing euthanasia in that country, and criticized a West that resists welcoming human life.
“Where are you sailing if, before life’s ills, you offer hasty but mistaken remedies: like easy access to death, a convenient answer that seems ‘sweet’ but is in fact more bitter than the waters of the sea?” he exclaimed.
Emmanuel Macron, who has already discussed the subject of the end of life with the Pope during his last meeting at the Vatican, could on Saturday hear again the position of the Head of the Catholic Church during their meeting behind closed doors.
Lack of security and corruption
The themes of drugs, corruption, and lack of security could also take center stage in Marseille during François’ visit. In Naples, another Mediterranean city that in some respects can be compared to Marseille, the Pope made a vibrant appeal against mafia abuses, corruption and violence during a visit in 2015.
“If we find a dead animal that is deteriorating, that is ‘corrupt,’ it is repulsive and even smells bad,” the Pope said. “Corruption stinks! A corrupt society stinks!” He went on to call for concerted action by civil society and politicians to combat this scourge. This subject, which the Pontiff does not hesitate to condemn abroad — as on his trip to Mongolia earlier this month — could appear in one of his speeches.
Ecology and global warming
Finally, ecology will be one of the themes of the trip, the Holy See has confirmed. Introducing the Marseille summit, Cardinal Aveline stressed the importance of reflection on this theme. He cited the recent fires in Greece and flooding in Libya as examples of the catastrophes to which the Mediterranean is exposed as a result of climate change.