The pope will also meet Friday with migrants and refugees who are traveling through the town of Briançon, on the border of Italy and France, to listen to their stories, said Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille. Pope Francis made Aveline a cardinal in 2022 and the two have a close relationship.
During a roundtable event last week, Aveline pointed to the “two obstacles” to discussing migration as being the “welcoming of everyone, without limits,” and viewing migrants “as universally guilty for all the country’s problems.”
The Catholic Church, he added, must “avoid these two ways of thinking and find the very, very, very delicate balance between being welcoming while addressing the problems.”
On Saturday, Pope Francis will meet with people struggling financially at a Catholic charity house before attending the final session of the Mediterranean Meeting, where he will deliver a speech. The pope will also have a private meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron that day.
The visit to France takes place just as the nation discusses topics ranging from euthanasia to religious freedom. With its strong emphasis on laicite, the separation between church and state, many left-wing French citizens are suspicious of the pope’s visit and audience with the president.
“I think it’s my place to be there. I won’t be there as a Catholic; I’ll be there as president of the republic, which is indeed secular,” Macron said.
Macron and Pope Francis have met three times at the Vatican, and the French leader was educated by Jesuit priests. The president will also attend the papal Mass at the Vélodrome Stadium, where 57,000 faithful are expected to attend.
Pope Francis is scheduled to return to Rome at 8:50 p.m. Saturday.
This article originally appeared here.