“Kalimera, I come as a pilgrim” to beautiful Greece and Cyprus, says Pope Francis (VIDEO)

Pope Francis said he would come as a “pilgrim” to beautiful Greece and Cyprus in a pre-recorded message on November 27 ahead of his visit to the two countries from December 2-6.

“Dear brothers and sisters of Cyprus and Greece, kaliméra sas! … I am preparing to come as a pilgrim to your magnificent lands, blessed by history, culture and the Gospel ”, declared the Pope in his message.

“I come with joy, precisely in the name of the Gospel, in the footsteps of the first great missionaries, in particular the apostles Paul and Barnabas,” he added. “It is good to go back to the origins and it is important that the Church rediscover the joy of the Gospel.

In Athens on December 4, Francis will meet with Greek political leaders, the Catholic clergy, a group of Jesuits and His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece.

On December 5, the Pope will fly to the island of Lesvos, where he will visit the refugees in a reception and identification center in Mytilene.

His trip will end with a gathering of young Catholics, before flying to Rome on December 6.

Pope Francis’ visit will strengthen relations between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, as well as relations between the two countries, Greece and the Vatican, said Wednesday Theodoros Kontidis, member of the Holy Synod of the Catholic hierarchy of Greece.

Here is the full text of the Pope’s message, provided by the Vatican:
Dear brothers and sisters of Cyprus and Greece, kaliméra sas! [Good morning!]

There are only a few days left before our meeting and I am preparing to come on a pilgrimage to your magnificent lands, blessed by history, culture and the Gospel! I come with joy, precisely in the name of the Gospel, in the footsteps of the first great missionaries, in particular the Apostles Paul and Barnabas. It is good to go back to the origins and it is important that the Church rediscover the joy of the Gospel. It is in this spirit that I am preparing this pilgrimage to the sources, which I ask everyone to help me prepare with their prayers.

By meeting you, I will be able to quench my thirst for the sources of fraternity, so precious at a time when we have just begun a universal synodal path. There is a “synodal grace”, an apostolic fraternity that I desire a lot, and with a lot of respect: it is the expectation of visiting the dear Beatitudes Chrysostomos and Ieronymos, Heads of the local Orthodox Churches. As a brother in the faith, I will have the grace to be received by you and to meet you in the name of the Lord of Peace. And I come to you, dear Catholic brothers and sisters, gathered on these lands in little flocks that the Father loves so tenderly and to which Jesus the Good Shepherd repeats: “Do not be afraid, little flock” (Lk 12,32). I come with affection to bring you the encouragement of the whole Catholic Church.

Visiting you will also give me the opportunity to drink from the ancient sources of Europe: Cyprus, the outpost of the Holy Land on the continent; Greece, cradle of classical culture. But even today, Europe cannot ignore the Mediterranean, the sea which has seen the spread of the Gospel and the development of great civilizations. The mare nostrum, which connects so many lands, invites us to navigate together, not to separate by separating, especially at a time when the fight against the pandemic still requires efforts, and when the climate crisis is looming.

The sea, which embraces many peoples, with its open ports reminds us that the sources of living together lie in mutual acceptance. Even today, I feel welcomed by your affection and I thank those who have been preparing my visit for some time. But I also think of those who, in recent years and even today, fled war and poverty, landed on the shores of the continent and elsewhere, and encountered not hospitality but hostility and even exploitation. . They are our brothers and sisters. How many have lost their lives at sea! Today our sea, the Mediterranean, is a great cemetery. As a pilgrim to the sources of humanity, I will return to Lesbos, convinced that the sources of common life will only flourish in fraternity and integration: together. There is no other way and with this vision I come to you.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is with these feelings that I look forward to meeting you all, all of you! Not just all Catholics! I invoke upon you all the blessing of the Most High, as I bring before him now your faces and your expectations, your worries and your hopes. Na íste pánda kalá! [May you always be well!]


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