The United States of the World and the Fondazione Mediterraneo took part in the "Mediterranean Meetings" organised in Marseille from 17 to 24 September 2023, at the initiative of the Italian Bishops' Conference: a process of confrontation between the dioceses of the countries bordering the Mediterranean began in 2020 in Bari. This process is in the spirit of Pope Francis' 'Mediterranean' journeys, from Lampedusa (2013) to Marseille (2023), passing through Tirana, Sarajevo, Lesbos, Cairo, Jerusalem, Cyprus, Naples, Rabat, Malta, etc.
After 490 years since the visit of Clement VII, a Pope visits the city of Marseilles.

In "today's sea of conflicts" the Mediterranean must "once again become a laboratory of peace" because it "expresses a thought that is not uniform and ideological, but multifaceted and adherent to reality; a vital, open and conciliatory thought: a community thought". And this is particularly necessary at the current historical juncture "where antiquated and belligerent nationalisms want to wipe out the dream of the community of nations!". For "with weapons one makes war, not peace, and with greed for power one returns to the past, not building the future".
In this spirit," says Secretary General Michele Capasso, "Pope Francis is in Marseille, where he concluded the 'Rencontres Méditerranéennes' in the presence of President Emmanuel Macron. He spoke about peace, the environment, and above all migrants. Launching a strong appeal to Europe to "ensure, according to everyone's possibilities, a large number of legal and regular entries, sustainable thanks to a fair reception", in the context of "a collaboration with the countries of origin".
Pope Francis spoke at the Palais du Pharo: the same venue that saw the "Rentrée solennelle" of the United States of the World and the Fondazione Mediterraneo in 2000. Welcomed by President Macron and his wife Brigitte, listening to him are the approximately 130 bishops and young people taking part in the work of the Rencontres, plus many other guests. The Greek Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schoinas and the French President of the ECB Christine Lagard are also there. Francis offered a wide-ranging and articulate speech. Rich in insights. And embellished with numerous quotations.
Francis points his finger at two words that feed "people's fears": "invasion" and "emergency". "But those who risk their lives at sea," he adds, "do not invade, they seek welcome". While as for the emergency, "the migratory phenomenon is not so much a momentary urgency, always good for spreading alarmist propaganda, but a fact of our times", which "must be governed with wise farsightedness: with a European responsibility capable of dealing with objective difficulties". In short, the mare nostrum "cries out for justice, with its shores exuding opulence, consumerism and waste on one side, while on the other there is poverty and precariousness".
The Pope observes that this situation is nothing new in recent years and, he stresses, "it is not this Pope who has come from the other side of the world who is the first to warn of it with urgency and concern". In fact, the Church "has been speaking about it in heartfelt tones for more than fifty years".
Addressing Christians in particular, Francis says: "We cannot accept that the ways of encounter be closed, that the truth of the god money prevail over the dignity of man, that life be turned into death!" So "worshipping God and serving our neighbour, that is what counts: not social relevance or numerical consistency, but faithfulness to the Lord and to man!" It is "beautiful then that Christians are second to none in charity; and that the Gospel of charity is the magna charta of pastoral care". In fact "we are not called to regret past times or to redefine an ecclesial relevance, we are called to witness: not to embroider the Gospel with words, but to give it flesh; not to measure visibility, but to spend ourselves in gratuitousness".
The Pope then turns directly to the bishops. With this exhortation: "let us not burden people with burdens, but let us relieve their labours in the name of the Gospel of mercy, to joyfully distribute the relief of Jesus to a weary and wounded humanity". The Church, he added, is not a set "of prescriptions", a "customs". In fact 'everyone, everyone, is invited".
Finally, some more concrete indications and suggestions. The opportunity of a Conference of Mediterranean Bishops, "which would allow further possibilities of exchange and give greater ecclesial representativeness to the region". Working for a specific pastoral even more connected to the migration phenomenon. The wish for Mediterranean universities to be "laboratories of dreams and building sites of the future", so as "to break down prejudices" and "ward off fundamentalist rhetoric". The development of a Mediterranean theology, which promotes "with originality the ecumenical journey among Christians and dialogue between believers of different religions", reflecting "on the mystery of God, which no one can claim to possess or master, and which indeed must be removed from any violent and instrumental use".
Concluding his speech, the Pope addressed Macron. 'The president,' he confided, speaking in his own words, 'once invited me to visit France, and he said to me: "But it is important that you come to Marseilles"'.
In the afternoon, the Mass at the Velodrome. It is the last appointment of these 27 hours spent by the Pope in Marseille. Along the road that leads to the stadium, there are many people - as many as a hundred thousand - to greet him.