Pope Francis arrived on Lesvos island on Sunday morning to visit the refugee camp, accompanied by President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, welcomed the Prelate of the Roman Catholic Church at the Temporary Reception and Identification Center of Lesvos, in Kara Tepe.
The reception from the refugees and immigrants was warm, with many shouting “we love you” and “welcome”.
The Pontifex showed special attention to the children, with one falling in his arms. He addressed the refugees and offered the Angelus Prayer.
This was the second visit of Pope Francis at Greece’s largest Temporary Reception and Identification Center. His first visit was in April 2016.
At 12:15, His Holiness departed from the island’s Mytilene airport for Athens at 12:15. At 16:45 he will lead a Divine Liturgy at the Athens Concert Hall.
Pope Francis spoke on migration on Saturday
On Saturday, His Holiness addressed the Greek people during a speech at the Presidential Mansion in the presence of the President of the Republic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and opposition leader, Alexis Tsipras.
“Without Athens and without Greece, Europe, and the World would not be what they are today – they would be less wise and less happy,” the Pontifex said.
He then gave a speech with emphasis on poverty and migration. Drawing from the Greek culture and the need to care for others, he cited Socrates who had said: “I am not an Athenian, but a citizen of the world.”
“In order to have true participation in the common good, special attention – if not by priority – should be paid to weaker sectors, especially in the challenges that humanity faces today, like climate change, the pandemic, the shared market and poverty.”
Pope Francis spoke of the nationalistic selfishness in the European Community that instead of being an agency of solidarity, it sometimes appears to be immovable and disorganized.
“If at one time ideological clashes obstructed the building of bridges between East and West on the continent, today the migration issue has opened cracks between North and South,” Pope Francis pointed out.
When Odysseus returned home to Ithaca, “he was not recognized by the leaders of the land who had taken over his house and goods, but by those who had taken care of him, the Prelate stated.
In the same way, he said, trials like those of migration bring us closer together during difficult times.
Divine Liturgy at the Athens Concert Hall
At 16:45 on Sunday His Holiness will lead a Divine Liturgy at the Athens Concert Hall. At 19:00 he will meet with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II at the Apostolic Monastery.
On Monday, Pope Francis will receive Speaker of the House Konstantinos Tassoulas at the Apostolic Monastery at 8:15, while at 9:45 he will address the students at the School of Agios Dionysios of the Ursuline Sisters in Maroussi.
A farewell ceremony will take place at Athens International Airport at 11:15 and then at 11:30 the Pontifex will depart for Rome.