- Feb 25, 2020
When some 50 bishops and patriarchs from different rites throughout the Mediterranean gather in Bari this month to discuss the dire situation many countries in the region face, the survival of Christians in the Middle East will likely emerge as a central topic.
Pope Francis will travel to the southern Italian seaport city of Bari in late February to close a meeting of bishops from countries bordering the Mediterranean, the Vatican confirmed.
The Mediterranean Sea, which has been and again could be a route for a meeting of peoples and cultures, instead is a “border not to be crossed” between the poor South and the wealthy North, said Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
When Pope Francis led the recitation of the Angelus prayer Jan. 20, he told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square that he had “two pains in my heart: Colombia and the Mediterranean.”
The deaths of up to 35 migrants in the Strait of Gibraltar in a single day prompted a Spanish bishop to call for greater solidarity among the nations of the region to resolve the crisis.
As they face “closed borders and raised barriers,” the world’s desperate migrants and refugees “ask us to dare to be in solidarity” and to work for justice and peace in their homelands, said leaders of the Italian bishops’ conference.