Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Pope Francis Asks Europe Not To Treat Migrants As Invaders

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Pope Francis on Saturday urged European governments to welcome migrants instead of viewing them as invaders, striding into in a hugely sensitive political debate again inflamed by mass arrivals on the second day of his visit to France’s Mediterranean port of Marseille.

The pontiff made the comments hours before he leads a mass in Marseille’s main stadium — usually the venue for rugby or football matches — in a gigantic event due to be attended by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Those who risk their lives at sea do not invade, they look for welcome,” Francis said in a speech closing a conference of bishops and young people from around the Mediterranean.

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Migration is “a reality of our times, a process that involves three continents around the Mediterranean and that must be governed with wise foresight, including a European response,” the pontiff added.

Noting the risk to the lives of migrants if they are not taken to safety, he warned against turning “the Mediterranean, the mare nostrum, from the cradle of civilisation into the mare mortuum, the graveyard of dignity.”

The pope’s forceful interventions come as the migration debate has been stoked by mass arrivals on the Italian island of Lampedusa last week.

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Speaking at a monument to people lost at sea on his arrival in Marseille on Friday, the pontiff had insisted that “people who are at risk of drowning when abandoned on the waves must be rescued”.

He thanked aid groups rescuing migrants in danger at sea, condemning efforts to prevent their work as “gestures of hate”.

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Photo Credit: Getty

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