On September 22 and 23, 2023, Pope Francis will visit the Phoenician city of Marseille with bishops from 30 Mediterranean area countries, as well as dozens of young people from all religious faiths, in order to take part in the third edition of the Mediterranean meetings. It is a project which is close to the heart of the head of the Church, and which allows a better understanding of one of the driving forces of the current Pontificate.
Pope Francis has repeated it enough to anyone who will listen: “I am going to Marseille, not to France.” It is to reiterate that the Sovereign Pontiff’s trip is neither a state visit nor an apostolic trip; it is the realization of a very specific project at the center of the current Pontificate.
In February 2020, in Bari, Italy, the bishops of the Italian Peninsula and the Mediterranean region gathered around the Pope to reflect on common solutions to the fractures that undermine the shores of the Mediterranean. Two years later, it was in Florence that the Pope received, in addition to the bishops, the mayors of the Mediterranean world in order to initiate cultural, political, and religious collaboration.
Finally this year, in Marseille, 70 young people representing all the religions and cultural backgrounds of the Mediterranean world will surround the bishops and the Pope. The Mediterranean meetings are being held to take up the issue of “resuming the culture of the meeting to rebuild a feeling of fraternity, by developing, in addition to fairer economic relations, more human relations, including with migrants,” as the Roman Pontiff himself explained on December 1, 2022, during a message addressed to the Rome MED Dialogues Conference.