Last December, the announcement of the probable visit of Pope Francis to Marseille seemed like a gift. In his homily at the Vélodrome, the Pope spoke of “tremors of faith”. They started that day. Thrills of joy for the diocese of Marseille and more generally the entire Church of France; doubts for organizers in a city hosting the Rugby World Cup; diplomacy of an official visit to Marseille without being a state visit to France.
But from the moment the pope’s plane landed and his fragile figure in his chair appeared, the tremors changed in nature. The momentum. Pride. The belief that something was going to happen.
By strong and clear words on unconditional human brotherhood, by the silence in front of the stele of those missing at sea which said even more, by the choice of places like Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, the northern districts of Marseille or the OM stadium, François left his mark on minds and touched hearts.
In twenty-six hours, Marseille went from being a pariah city to being a “mirror of the world” and a “mosaic of hope”. The Church of France has become an agent of communion between religions, public authorities and many relief organizations, often non-Christian.
Above all, under the gaze of the “Good Mother”, the question of welcoming migrants at the gates of Europe, or already on our soil, has been transformed: from a fantasized danger of our society, it has become the place of the affirmation of the profound truth of our European civilization.
Finally, the exceptional coverage of all French media demonstrates that a warm and supportive way of seeing the world and forming society is credible. We still shudder.