Pope Francis concludes the Mediterranean meetings in Marseille by encouraging participants and authorities to help make the Mediterranean region “the beginning and foundation of peace between all the nations of the world.”
News from the Vatican
The Mediterranean is a “mirror of the world” and “carries within it a global vocation to brotherhood, the only way to prevent and overcome conflicts.” With these words, the Pope closed the closing session of the Holy Mass this Saturday with a detailed and rich speech Mediterranean meetings, which took place for a week at the Faro Palace in Marseille.
For seven days, more than 120 church representatives and young people from the five Mediterranean coasts spoke about the region’s current political, economic and environmental challenges, but also about their hopes for the future, with particular attention to the current migration crisis.
Pope Francis recalled the special heterogeneous and cosmopolitan character of Marseille, a “multiplicity of peoples” that “made this city, with its great multi-ethnic and multicultural tradition, a mosaic of hope” reflecting the diverse civilizations of the Mediterranean his reflections on three aspects that characterize the city in the south of France: the sea, the harbor and the lighthouse.
The greeting between Pope Francis and French President Macron
Counter the division of conflicts with the sociability of differences
Francis noted that we often hear of the history of the Mediterranean as a “tangle of conflicts between civilizations, religions and different visions,” but that should not make us forget that the Mediterranean is a “cradle of civilization” and that the Mare Nostrum (our sea) plays a role has been for centuries a meeting point “between the Abrahamic religions, between Greek, Latin and Arabic thought, between science, philosophy and law and many other realities”.
In fact, said the Pope, repeating the words of the great mayor of Florence, Giorgio La Pira (initiator of the “Mediterranean Encounters” initiative, editor’s note), the Mediterranean is “the beginning and the basis of peace between to all the nations of the world,” a concentration of cities, traditions, and worship services, such as the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus preached the Gospel and proclaimed the Beatitudes.
“The Mare Nostrum at the interface between North and South, East and West,” Pope Francis said, “invites us to counter the division of conflicts with the conviviality of differences” and at the same time “bundles the challenges of the whole world,” including of climate change.
“In the current spate of conflicts, we are here to recognize the value of the contribution of the Mediterranean and to make it a laboratory of peace again.” Because that is its calling: to be a place where different countries and realities converge on the basis of the common humanity that we all share and not on the basis of opposing ideologies. In fact, the Mediterranean does not express a unified and ideological thought, but a complex thought that adheres to reality. “a lively, open and conciliatory thought: a community idea”
Hear the cry of the poor
For the Mediterranean to become “once again a laboratory of peace” in the world amid “today’s sea of conflict” and the resurgence of warlike nationalisms, it must listen to the cry of the poor, as Jesus did on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. “We must rise again from the cry of the last, who are often silent”; because they are faces, not numbers, said the Pope.
“The shift in tone in our communities is to treat them as brothers whose stories we should know, rather than as troublesome problems; lies in welcoming them, not in hiding them; by integrating them, not by distributing them; to give them dignity”
Mare Nostrum became Mare Mortuum
Today the sea of human coexistence is polluted by precariousness that harms even the magnificent Marseille. And where there is precarity, there is crime: where there is material poverty, educational, labor, cultural and religious poverty, the terrain is paved for mafia and illegal trafficking. The commitment of the institutions is not enough, it takes a shock of conscience to say “no” to illegality and “yes” to solidarity, which is not a drop in the ocean but an indispensable element to clean up their waters.
Noting that today “the sea of human coexistence is polluted by precarity,” which hurts even in European cities like Marseille, which are facing community tensions and an increase in crime, Pope Francis reiterated the urgency of shaking consciences “ To say “no” to illegality and “yes” to solidarity.
“In fact, he explained, the real social evil lies not so much in the increase of problems, but in the diminishing attention” to the most vulnerable: young people abandoned to their fate, easy prey for crime, families who… To be afraid, afraid of the future, of the elderly who are alone, of the unborn children, of the cries of pain rising from North Africa and the Middle East, including Christians fleeing persecution.
“And then there is a cry of pain, the loudest of all, which transforms the Mare Nostrum into a Mare Mortuum, the Mediterranean from the cradle of civilization to the grave of dignity.”
Migration: It is not an emergency, but a reality of our time
Reflecting on the second feature of Marseille, a large port city open to the sea with a history of immigration and emigration, Pope Francis denounced the fact that several other Mediterranean cities have closed their ports, fueling people’s fears: “Invasion” and “Emergency”. But those who risk their lives at sea are not invading, they are seeking protection, Francisco clarified.
Regarding the “state of emergency”, he emphasized that the migration phenomenon is not so much a temporary emergency, always appropriate to foment alarmist propaganda, but rather a reality of our time, a process that involves three continents around the Mediterranean and which must be controlled … with clever clairvoyance: with a European responsibility that can cope with objective difficulties.
Here too, he noted, the “Mediterranean is a mirror of the world,” with the poorest countries in the south, “ravaged by instability, regimes, wars and desertification,” turning to the richer north.
In this case too – he continued – “the Mediterranean is a mirror of the world, with the South turning towards the North; with so many developing countries suffering from instability, regimes, wars and desertification, looking at the rich, in a globalized world where we are all connected but where disparities have never been greater.”
Pope Francis during the closing session of the Mediterranean meetings
Welcome, protect, promote and integrate
He acknowledged the difficulties “in the reception, protection, promotion and integration of undesirable people” and emphasized that “the main criterion cannot be the preservation of one’s own well-being, but rather the preservation of human dignity.”
He referred to the “terrible scourge of human exploitation” and pointed out that “the solution is not to reject it, but to ensure, within the limits of each individual’s possibilities, a large number of legal and regular entries, sustainable thanks to a .” Welcome Mass on the part of the European continent within the framework of cooperation with the countries of origin.” He also recognized that “integration is laborious but open-minded” because “it prepares the future that, whether we like it or not, will be common or not.”
“An assimilation that does not take into account differences and remains rigid in its own paradigms instead allows the idea to prevail over reality and endangers the future by increasing distances and causing the formation of ghettos, generating hostility and intolerance. “We need brotherhood like bread.”
Experience the gospel of charity and brotherhood
The Pope recalled that the port of Marseille is also a “gateway of faith” and then stressed the duty of Christians to bear witness to the Lord’s predilection for the poor and to the Gospel of charity and fraternity. “We are not called to recall past times or to redefine an ecclesial relevance,” he said, “we are called to bear witness: not to decorate the Gospel with words, but to give it flesh,” he explained, referring to the Example of Saint Charles de Foucauld, the “universal brother”, the martyr of Algeria, but also of so many charities today.
“Worshiping God and serving your neighbor is what counts: not social relevance or numerical importance, but loyalty to the Lord and to people!”
Referring to the last image, that of the lighthouse, Pope Francis emphasized the need for the churches in the Mediterranean to find “more synergistic ways” to address the region’s challenges.
In this sense, he suggested also considering the possibility of a conference of Mediterranean bishops “which would offer more opportunities for exchange and give the region greater ecclesial representation” and also to reflect on the port and migration issue and “for a certain pastoral care to work”. even better coordinated so that the most vulnerable dioceses can offer better spiritual and human assistance to the sisters and brothers in need.”
Young people, light that shows the way into the future
He further highlighted the role of young people as “the light that shows the way forward” in the Mediterranean and reiterated the crucial importance of education in overcoming barriers and prejudices. He drew particular attention to universities “as laboratories of dreams” in which young people mature “by meeting each other, getting to know each other and at the same time discovering close and different cultures and contexts.” “In this way, prejudices are reduced, wounds are healed and fundamentalist rhetoric is avoided “, he emphasized, adding that “the Church can make a good contribution to this by putting its formation networks at the service and promoting “creativity of fraternity”.
The Pope gives his speech
A new Mediterranean theologynea, to avoid the abuse of religion
Finally, Pope Francis advocated a “Mediterranean theology” that develops an idea that “adheres to reality, is ‘home’ to the human and not just to technical data, and is capable of uniting generations by combining memory with the future, and to promote this with originality.” the ecumenical path between Christians and the dialogue between believers of different religions”, “to refrain from any violent and instrumental use, in the awareness that the confession of one’s greatness in us presupposes the humility of the seeker .”