Pope Francis challenges Europe to open ports to migrants

Pope Francis meets French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palais du Pharo, in Marseille, France, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 (Andreas Solaro/AFP via AP, Pool)
Pope Francis meets French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palais du Pharo, in Marseille, France, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 (Andreas Solaro/AFP via AP, Pool)

Pope Francis challenges French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders to open their ports to people fleeing hardship and poverty, insisting that the continent isn’t facing a migration “emergency” but rather a long-term reality that governments must deal with humanely.

For a second straight day in the French port city of Marseille, Francis takes aim at European countries that have used “alarmist propaganda” to justify closing their doors to migrants, and tries to shame them into responding with charity instead. He calls for migrants to have legal pathways to citizenship, and for the Mediterranean Sea that so many cross to reach Europe to be a beacon of hope, not a graveyard of desperation.

The Mediterranean, Francis tells Macron and a gathering of regional bishops, “cries out for justice, with its shores that on the one hand exude affluence, consumerism and waste, while on the other there is poverty and instability.”

The pope’s visit to the city in southern France, which drew an estimated 150,000 well-wishers today, comes as Italy’s far right-led government has reacted to a new wave of arriving migrants by threatening to organize a naval blockade of Tunisia and to step up repatriations. The French government, for its part, has beefed up patrols on its southern border to stop migrants in Italy from crossing over.

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