A few days before his apostolic trip to Cyprus and Greece, Pope Francis sent a video message expressing his joy at visiting “as a pilgrim on your magnificent lands blessed by history, culture and the Gospel”. The Pope leaves for the two nations on Thursday 2 December for a five-day trip.
November 29, 2021
Pope Francis visits refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos, April 16, 2016
VATICAN: In his video message, Pope Francis expressed his joy for the next visit to Cyprus and Greece, which begins in five days. His visit “in the name of the Gospel” will follow in the footsteps of the first great missionaries, in particular the apostles Paul and Barnabas, he said, stressing the importance of going to the origins of the Church in order to “rediscover the joy of the gospel “.
The Pope has asked everyone for prayers as he prepares for this “pilgrimage to the sources”. His meetings with the people will make it possible to “quench” his thirst for “sources of fraternity”, he said, which are very important as the Church has embarked on her universal synodal journey. The “synodal grace” will include fraternal visits with their Beatitudes Chrysostomos and Hieronymos, heads of the local Orthodox Churches. The Pope expressed his gratitude, “as a brother in the faith”, for the grace of being received by them and of being together “in the name of the Lord of Peace”.
He also addressed the “little flocks” of Catholics in these lands, saying he was eager to share his affection with them and bring them “the encouragement of the whole Catholic Church.”
The Pope went on to explain how this visit will allow him to “drink from the ancient sources of Europe”, with Cyprus as the continental outpost of the Holy Land and Greece as the center of classical culture. Europe must recognize the importance of the Mediterranean, he noted, where the gospel flourished and where great civilizations were born. This great heritage of the “mare nostrum” invites us to show solidarity, especially in the face of today’s challenges such as the pandemic and the climate crisis.
The Pope recalled that the sea embraces many peoples and lands called to live together in peace and mutual acceptance. He thanked those who helped prepare for the trip for their warmth reflecting this call.
At the same time, his thoughts turned to those fleeing war and poverty, landing on the shores of these lands, and the hostility or exploitation they had endured in their migrations. He stressed that they are “our brothers and sisters”, noting that so many people have lost their lives at sea that the Mediterranean has become a “great cemetery”. The Pope recalled that he will visit his island of Lesbos again, “convinced that the sources of common life will only flourish in fraternity and integration: together”. This is the only way to go, he stressed.
In conclusion, he said he looked forward to meeting everyone on his visits and he asked for the blessing of the “Most High” on all as he prays for the expectations, concerns and hopes of all. – Vatican News