Pope Francis confirms his visit to Marseille on September 23

Returning from Africa this Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about his upcoming trips, paid tribute to Benedict XVI and spoke out against the criminalization of homosexuality.

The pope spoke of the date of ” September 29 “, but the services of the Vatican immediately corrected: the head of the Catholic Church will indeed go to Marseilles on Saturday ” September 23 “. He will come to speak before a gathering of bishops from cities on all shores of the Mediterranean on the question of migration, in particular.

François made this declaration this Sunday, during the press conference on the plane which brought him back from South Sudan to Rome, after an African journey which began on Tuesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church, also took part in this appointment with the press, as well as the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.

The three Christian leaders had agreed to meet in South Sudan on Saturday for an ecumenical prayer for peace and returned together to Rome. But François immediately affirmed that he would not officially visit France: “ I will go to Marseilles, not to France ”, he said. He is keen to go to “ the smallest countries to get to know the hidden Europe ”. This was also the spirit of his first European trip to Albania in September 2014 to which he alluded.

Which means François, 86, should never officially visit France again. His visit to Marseille will be modeled on the one he made to Strasbourg on November 25, 2014: a round trip over half a day where he then went to the European Parliament without even stopping in the cathedral of Strasbourg, which was nevertheless celebrating its millennium.

In his travel plans, Francis mentioned WYD in Lisbon in Portugal next August, a possible trip to Mongolia and perhaps a visit to India in 2024. As for his state of health, the pope joked: “ the weed never dies! “. Adding: “ My health is not the same as at the beginning of my pontificate, my knee is bothering me but I am moving forward slowly and we will see… ”

“Benedict XVI was a man of such a level…”

Beyond answering questions about the trip to Africa and the war in Ukraine, about which the pope repeated his calls for peace, he gave details about his relationship with Benedict XVI, who died on December 31. 2022: “ I would like to say that I was able to talk about everything with Pope Benedict and exchange opinions. And he was always by my side, supporting (me). And if he had any difficulty, he would tell me about it. And we were talking about it. And there were no problems.”

And to tell this anecdote: “ A person who believes himself to be a great theologian went to see him. And he complained about me. Benoît was not impressed. He called four high-level theologian cardinals. He told them “explain that to me”. They explained to him. And the story ended there. This shows how Benoit acted when there was a complaint.

Asked about the divisions in the Church that may have reappeared with the death of the pope emeritus, Francis commented: “Some stories say that Benedict was saddened by what the new pope did… It’s Chinese. On the contrary, I consulted him for certain decisions and he agreed. He agreed ! I believe that Benoît’s death was exploited by people who wanted to bring water to their own mill.

One way or another, these people instrumentalize a man of God, I would even say a “Holy Father of the Church”. He was a man of such a level… These people have no ethics. They are people from parties, they are not from the Church. We see everywhere the tendency to use the theological positions of parties. And this is what it leads to. Let it go, these things will pass by themselves. Others will continue to move forward as it happens. has already happened in the history of the Church. But I wanted to make it clear who Pope Benedict was: he was not an embittered person.

Asked about the criminalization of homosexuality in force in certain African countries, the pope took up two points that he had already developed. The first: “ If a person with a homosexual and religious tendency seeks God, who am I to judge him? And the second, addressing parents of homosexual people: “ I said clearly to parents: they have the right to stay at home, children who have this orientation. You cannot drive them out of your home. They have the right to that.

“Criminalizing people of homosexual tendency is an injustice”

But the pope said he had forgotten his remarks to the Associated Press agency on January 24. “ And then, recently, I said things, I can’t remember exactly what, to The Associated Press. “. The pope then said that homosexuality was “ not a crime ” but that it was a “ sin ”. This had provoked a strong reaction from the world homosexual community. The pope had then written a letter, as early as January 28, to correct his statement and affirm that circumstances can “ reduce or eliminate the fault.”

As for the criminalization of homosexuality, François clarified his position: “ The criminalization of homosexuality is a problem that we must not let pass. 50 countries, in one way or another, criminalize homosexuality. For a dozen of them, they have the death penalty. This is not right.

He added: “ People of homosexual tendency are children of God. God loves them. God accompanies them. I see that some are involved in various and unwanted situations. To condemn a person like this is a sin. Criminalizing people with a homosexual tendency is an injustice ”. Specifying “I am talking about people. The lobbies are something else. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that they should not be marginalized [the people, Editor’s note]. I believe that the thing is clear on this point.

Finally referring to marriage between “ homosexual persons” , François concluded “ Marriage is a sacrament. And we can’t make a sacrament. But there is a possibility of insuring the goods… It is the civil law. It started in France. A civil law which means that anyone can form a civil union.”

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