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Pope visit to Marseille to shine light on latest EU migration crisis



Pope visit to Marseille to shine light on latest EU migration crisis
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Pope Francis arrives on Friday in the French port city of Marseille for a lightning visit that will last a mere 27 hours but draw further attention to Europe’s continuing migration crisis.

The trip, to make concluding remarks at a meeting of Catholic young people and bishops from the Mediterranean area, was months in the planning.

But it is now taking place in the wake of a new surge of thousands of arrivals of migrants last week at Lampedusa, National Daily Newspaper gathered.

Nearly, 130,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, according to government data, nearly double the figure for the same period of 2022.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni says, makes migration a problem for the entire EU, not just the burden of front-line receiving countries such as Italy, Malta, and Spain, National Daily Newspaper gathered.

While Pope Francis has said often that migrants should be shared among the 27 EU countries, his overall openness towards migrants, including once calling their exclusion “scandalous, disgusting and sinful,” has riled conservative politicians, not least in France.

“He behaves like a politician, or the head of an NGO, and not a pope,” said Gilles Pennelle, general director of the far-right Rassemblement National party of Marine Le Pen, President Emmanuel Macron’s main challenger in last year’s presidential vote.

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“I think that the Christian message is one of welcome on an individual level, but it (migration) is an immense political problem and whether or not to welcome migrants is for politicians to decide,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Pope Francis has said the visit is “to Marseille, not France,” and one of the first events will be a visit on Friday evening to a monument to the heroes and victims of the sea.

It will have echoes of Francis’ first visit as pope – in 2013 to Lampedusa, where he paid tribute to migrants who died at sea and condemned “the globalization of indifference, National Daily Newspaper gathered.

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