“Mediterranean Sea stained with blood”
Pope criticizes indifference towards refugees
September 22, 2023, 8:48 p.m
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Pope Francis is putting the fate of migrants at the center of his visit to Marseille, France. To start with, he remembers the people who drown in the Mediterranean year after year. The pontiff sees civilization at a crossroads.
Pope Francis has denounced indifference to the fate of migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa across the Mediterranean. “Let us not get used to seeing shipwrecks as headlines and the deaths at sea as mere numbers,” said the head of the Catholic Church at the start of a visit to the French port city of Marseille.
“People who are in danger of drowning if they are exposed to the waves must be saved. This is a duty of humanity, a duty of civilization,” said the pontiff at a monument to migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean. “And so this beautiful sea has become a huge cemetery where many brothers and sisters are deprived of even the right to a grave – only human dignity is buried here,” the pope said.
“Friends, there is also a crossroads before us: on the one hand, the fraternity that enriches the human community with good; on the other hand, the indifference that stains the Mediterranean with blood,” warned the 86-year-old. “We are at a crossroads of civilization. We can no longer accept seeing people treated as barter, imprisoned and cruelly tortured, we can no longer stand by the tragedies of shipwrecks caused by vile human trafficking and… a fanaticism of indifference,” said the church leader.
“The situation in Lampedusa is terrible”
The fate of migrants is at the center of Francis’ visit to Marseille for a youth meeting with participants from 29 Mediterranean countries. More than 10,000 migrants landed on the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa this month alone. Fatal incidents also occur again and again. At the start of his trip, the Pope expressed shock at the conditions there.
“The situation in Lampedusa is cruel, a terrible lack of humanity.” On the outbound flight, Francis also spoke to journalists about the situation in Libya, where many migrants are waiting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. According to a report by the Italian television station RAI, he literally said: “They keep them in camps in Libya and then throw them into the sea.” Many of the boats that bring people from African countries to Lampedusa for money come from Libya and Tunisia. Migrants often drown during the crossing.
According to French sources, migration will also be an important topic at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday. 60,000 believers are expected at a mass in the Vélodrome stadium.