Pope Francis, honorary citizen of Marseille who came to “cry justice” for migrants and the vulnerable

A small, all-white Fiat 500 among the police cars with black windows. And him, sitting in front, window down, to greet the people of Marseille. Early, very early on Saturday September 23, Pope Francis resumed the visit begun the day before, upon his arrival in Marseille, a Friday full of symbols and popular emotions, including because everyone understood that the visit to this city of southern France of this tired man was perhaps the last of the sovereign pontiff outside Rome. “ I think that this evening, even the Good Mother has a tear in her eye”launched the Archbishop of Marseille, Mgr Jean-Marc Aveline, taking leave of his friend François.

The day before, at the end of a parking lot, in the refined setting of a Camargue cross as if silhouetted against a sea ruffled by the mistral, the pope had criticized the “virus of extremism »And “the dictatorship of indifference” with regard to shipwrecks and drowned people that each “gets used to” to be considered as ” various facts “ And “numbers”without “faces” neither ” historys ».

Among these victims, Moussa. The pontiff was able to shake the hands of the young 23-year-old Guinean rescued by the Aquarius, the first ship of the humanitarian association SOS Méditerranée, and kindly thank association leaders, adding this sentence: “I am very happy to see many of you here, you who go to sea to save migrants, [alors que] often you are prevented from doing so [dans] gestures of hatred. » Some saw it as a very political warning to France and Italy.

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The Pope’s Saturday in Marseille began with a “breakfast with the poor”. The meeting took place at the Sisters of Charity, Saint-Maura district in the 3rd arrondissement of the city. Initially, the meeting was to be held at the archbishopric; but in extremis, the pope changed the program to visit Mother Teresa’s missionaries, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. Outside the mission, the neighbors can’t believe their eyes. The Pope, here, between a food discount and two halal snacks? On the phone, in Arabic, a passerby tries to convince his wife.

The nuns place a blue and white necklace around the neck of their host and sing while clapping their hands. ” I’m glad to be here »in a place “where people hold each other’s hands »says the pope. “Abdullah, have you come to see the Holy Father? “, calls out Louise Contri, 74 years old, 42 of whom have been in the neighborhood serving the parish as a volunteer. “People here call me Louise from the church”she says. Compassion is all this pope asks of us. Let us apply the Gospel. This bothers some people because there are a lot of foreigners in the neighborhood. »

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