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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Pope urges Europe to welcome migrants, focus on integration

Pope Francis is greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron, left, upon his arrival at the Palais du Pharo in the southern port city of Marseille on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (Sebastien Nogier/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)  (Sebastien Nogier/Pool/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Michael Evers German Press Agency

MARSEILLE, France – Pope Francis warned on Saturday against isolationism and scaremongering in the face of irregular migration from Africa across the Mediterranean to Europe.

Possibilities for regular entry and a balanced reception of migrants in Europe must be guaranteed, the pontiff said on the second day of his visit to Marseille in southern France.

Migration, he said, is neither an invasion nor an emergency situation but a reality of our times that must be addressed with European responsibility and cooperation with the countries of origin.

“The ‘mare nostrum’ 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,” Francis said, using a Latin term for the Mediterranean that translates literally as “our sea.”

Speaking at the end of a youth meeting with participants from 29 Mediterranean countries, Francis acknowledged that the difficulties of welcoming migrants cannot be overlooked: “Yet the principal criterion cannot be the preservation of one’s own well-being, but rather the safeguarding of human dignity.”

The future, he said, does not lie in compartmentalization. “To say ‘enough,’ on the other hand, is to close one’s eyes; trying to ‘save oneself’ today will turn into a tragedy tomorrow,” the head of the Church warned.

“Future generations will thank us if we were able to create the conditions for a necessary integration; Otherwise, they will censure us if we favor only sterile forms of assimilation.” Integration is arduous, but a far-sighted preparation for the future, Francis said.

Nearly 60,000 people flocked to the Vélodrome stadium in the afternoon, where the Pope said Mass on the second day of his visit to Marseille.

He called for people to be moved by faith and to take an interest in the lives of those they pass by every day.

The big cities and many European countries like France, where different cultures and religions live together, represent in this sense a great challenge against the excesses of individualism, against the selfishness and closed-mindedness that generate loneliness and suffering, Francis said.

The service was also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, who had previously met the head of the Catholic Church for talks. Migration was thought to be an important topic of the talks.

Along the Avenue du Prado, where Francis rode in the Popemobile towards the stadium, thousands of onlookers and believers from all over France lined the roadside.