Since 6 July 2000, almost a quarter of a century has passed since the Fondazione Mediterraneo and the United States of the World presented their programmes, projects and concrete initiatives in Marseille on the issues of migration, integration, ecological conversion and respect for creation.
Jean Claude Gaudin, Vice-President of the Senate and historic mayor of Marseille from 1995 to 2020, supported our action by organising a solemn "Rentrée" with les "Assises de la Méditerranée": more than 1,500 representatives from various countries who for 4 days discussed the Foundation's programmes and projects.
Present at the "Mediterranean Meetings" organised by the Mediterranean bishops from 17 to 24 September 2023 - with the participation of Pope Francis - President Michele Capasso said: "I thought of those days in July 2000 when we returned from Marseilles full of enthusiasm and hope. And then the visits of Mayor Gaudin to Naples and Benevento, the award to "Marseille Esperance" presented in Naples, the inauguration of the 'Marseille Room' at the headquarters of the United States of the World.
So many protagonists reappearing: here is Pope Francis at the centre of the same stage where with Shimon Peres and other Heads of State we gathered the first adhesions to the United States of the World, here are Bishops and Cardinals of the Mediterranean countries at centre stage, as were then academics, university rectors, mayors of the main cities adhering to the United States of the World.
Here is the then Mayor Gaudin, tired and disappointed, next to the Pope as if to remind him never to leave the Mediterranean.
And then the room where the Pope meets President Macron: the same room where with Shimon Peres we signed the first draft of the Constitution of the United States of the World.
And then the driveway to the Pharo Palace, where in the same place where the President accompanies the Pope in his wheelchair we laid the foundations for a true interreligious dialogue with his brother and friend Father Paolo dall'Oglio a few weeks before his death.
So many memories entrusted to so many images - President Capasso concludes - with a sadness and a hope. The sadness is not having succeeded, despite constant efforts, in making the Mediterranean a sea of exchanges and knowledge, but a tomb of dignity, as Pope Francis said. The hope lies in this variegated mosaic of cultures and faiths that can, if properly coordinated, be the founding element of a new model of solidarity based on welcome and coexistence".