French newspaper in print (file photo) French newspaper in print (file photo)  (AFP or licensors)

French media shine spotlight on Pope’s Marseille visit

As Pope Francis begins his second day in Marseille, media outlets across France highlight his message for European nations to respect the human dignity of migrants and rescue them at sea.

By Fr. Paul Samasumo – Marseille

Upon arrival in Marseille on Friday, Pope Francis hit the ground running, immediately launching into activities lined up for this flying weekend visit to the southern French city.

The “Francis effect” was clearly visible as French media, usually reticent about reporting on religious matters, seemed to pull all stops to cover Pope Francis—particularly soon after his arrival. For a moment, the World Rugby games seem to have taken second stage.

Focus on migrants

Since his arrival, several television stations have carried wall-to-wall media coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to Marseille.

The government-owned France 24, a news and current affairs TV channel with international outreach, concentrated its coverage on Saturday morning on Pope Francis’ reminder to European governments that they have a duty to rescue migrants in dangerous situations at sea.

Soon after arrival, Pope Francis emphasised that rescuing migrants was an obligation of humanity.

Le Figaro, one of France’s oldest newspapers, followed a similar editorial path, repeating Pope Francis’ message against the forced return of refugees, migrants or asylum seekers.

La Provence, one of the leading dailies published in Marseille, speaks of a Pope confronting the shipwreck of indifference regarding the death of migrants at sea.

Security details

On the other hand, the French mass-circulation newspaper, Le Monde, took a slightly more polemical view, saying that the Pope’s visit to Marseille highlights Pope Francis’s complex relationship with the French people.

The newspaper also lamented the unprecedented security laid out for the visit of Pope Francis and President Emmanuel Macron to the port city.

In general, the overall view of the media on Day One of the Pope’s two-day visit was relatively positive and definitely respectful.

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23 September 2023, 10:12