Ahead of the high point that will be the arrival of the Pope, the Mediterranean Meetings begin in Marseille, this Saturday, September 16, with bishops and young people from all around the Mediterranean to reflect on the future of this common space bereaved by the fate of migrants.
What is the objective of these meetings?
The challenge is to bring together 140 young people and bishops “so that the mosaic of peoples, cultures, religions which make up the Mediterranean build and share the same hope”, it is specified on the event website.
The Marseille edition is structured around four major challenges for the Mediterranean area: the environmental challenge, there migration question, THE economic disparities and the geopolitical and religious tensions.
Why the city of Marseille?
“Marseille has often been the gate of the east», explains the diocese of Marseille. “Today, it is for many people, coming from the East or the South, the door to the West. It is marked by a very strong Jewish, Armenian, Comorian but also North African, Levantine and sub-Saharan presence. It welcomes various Christian communities from the East.”
If Marseille was chosen for this third edition, it is also because the city is home to “one of the poorest neighborhoods in Europe”, continues the diocese. “In this sense, Marseille is a true microcosm of what is happening in the Mediterranean, faced with multiple challenges, while still maintaining a real reception capacity.”
Who will be present?
An assembly of 70 young people, students or young professionals from all faiths and socio-cultural backgrounds, will work from Monday September 18 to Thursday September 21. Around thirty nationalities will be represented, covering all five shores of the Mediterranean: North Africa, Middle East, Aegean Sea, Balkans as well as Latin Europe, while including countries of the Black Sea or Armenia which do not affect the Mediterranean in the strict sense but whose destiny is intimately linked to this inland sea.
In parallel, 70 bishops (Latin or Greek-Catholic bishops, Coptic, Syriac, Chaldean patriarchs, etc.) will meet from September 21, before a joint session with young people the next day.
What is the rest of the program?
According to Amaury Guillem, responsible for communications for the event, the goal of the Mediterranean Meetings is to exceed “the Christian sphere to really involve the whole city” from Marseille. A cultural festival is therefore associated with these meetings with around a hundred proposals, throughout the week:
- A interfaith football tournament, a visit of the great synagogue or the Buddhist pagodas of Marseille, but also a conference by the writer Marek Halter.
- Added to this are drama show, many exhibitions.
- The Marseille Otherwise association will thus offer throughout the week thematic hikes in the footsteps of the Greeks and Italians.
- For music lovers, a concert of film music from the Mediterranean and the world, with pianist Jean-Jacques Bédikian, is scheduled at the Protestant temple of Grignan on September 17. On September 23, three masters of Andalusian music will perform songs in Arabic, Hebrew and Spanish at the Odéon municipal theater.
Many events are free, requiring simple registration. For more information:encontres-med23.org/programme/