Over 60,000 people gathered in Marseille's velodrome stadium in France, to listen to the pontiff give mass.
Many faithful came from across French regions to see the pope, who last visited the country almost a decade ago.
The pope's visit to the city in southern France, which drew an estimated 150,000 well-wishers Saturday, comes as Italy’s far right-led government has reacted to a new wave of arriving migrants by threatening to organize a naval blockade of Tunisia and to step up repatriations. The French government, for its part, has beefed up patrols on its southern border to stop migrants in Italy from crossing over.
Migrants and their advocates living in Marseille, which has a long tradition of multicultural hospitality, said Francis’ call for charity and paths to citizenship gave them hope that at least someone in Europe was sympathetic to their plight.
In his remarks, Francis also repeated his opposition to euthanasia, which he has long decried as a symptom of a “throwaway culture” which treats the elderly and infirm as dispensable. Listing euthanasia as a “social evil," he criticized supporters of assisted suicide as providing “false pretences of a supposedly dignified and ‘sweet’ death that is more ‘salty’ than the waters of the sea.”
The issue is current in France, where Macron is expected in the coming weeks to unveil a bill that would legalize end-of-life options in France. French media reported that he delayed the presentation of the measure until after the pope’s visit to keep the sensitive topic from interfering.
No details of the government's proposal have been released, but several options are under consideration, including legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia for adult patients with incurable conditions under strict conditions that guarantee their free and informed consent.
The French presidency said Francis and Macron discussed the issue during their bilateral meeting but didn't enter into the details.