Pope Francis, during his recent visit to the southern French city of Marseille, made a powerful plea to European nations for increased compassion and tolerance toward migrants. Addressing an assembly of bishops and young individuals from Mediterranean nations, the Pope delved deep into the current state of the migration debate, underscoring the urgency and humanity that it demands.
Migration: A Reality, Not An Emergency
Highlighting the importance of viewing the migration issue as an integral part of the present times, Pope Francis stated, "Migration is not an emergency, but rather 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." This statement comes against the backdrop of a renewed debate sparked by the mass arrival of migrants on the Italian island of Lampedusa just last week.
The Pope's words took on a poignant tone as he described the dire condition of these displaced souls, emphasizing the tragic transformation of the Mediterranean, once revered as the 'mare nostrum' or 'our sea', now feared as the 'mare mortuum', the 'sea of death'
"There is a cry of pain that resonates most of all," he remarked, alluding to the perilous journeys many undertake, only to meet tragic ends. French President Emmanuel Macron was present among the audience, lending gravitas to the significance of the Pope's address.
However, France's Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, seemed to offer a contrasting stance. Having greeted the Pope on his Friday arrival in Marseille, Darmanin proclaimed that France would not be extending its hospitality to migrants coming from Lampedusa.
A Call for Legal Pathways and Compassion
Going beyond just pointing out the issues, Pope Francis proactively urged nations to set up "an ample number of legal and regular entrances" especially for those fleeing war, hunger, and destitution.
He emphasized the need to focus on humanity over individualistic preservation. The octogenarian Pope did not mince words, cautioning governments against the perils of the "fanaticism of indifference" and the "paralysis of fear". He unambiguously declared that those vulnerable to the treacherous waves must be saved.