Highlights of the Holy Father’s Visit to the Clergy & People of Greece and the Hope Generated by It

His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II visits Pope Francis at the Apostolic NunicaturePope Francis thanks Greece for warm welcome

Pope Francis expresses his appreciation for the warm welcome he has received in Greece, and recalls that “thanksgiving” is at the heart of our Christian faith and life.

By Devin Watkins

As the Pope wrapped up Mass in Athens on Sunday, he thanked the people of Greece for welcoming him in their midst.

Using the Greek word for “thank you” (Ευχαριστώ), Pope Francis noted that the Greek language gave the entire Church a term to sum up the gift of Christ: Eucaristia, or Eucharist, “thanksgiving”.

“For us Christians, thanksgiving is at the heart of our faith and life,” said the Pope.

And he prayed that the Holy Spirit might “make of everything we are and everything we do a ‘Eucharist’, a thanksgiving to God and a gift of love to our brothers and sisters.”

Carrying Greece with him as he departs

With this grateful attitude in mind, the Pope expressed his appreciation to the Greek civil authorities and the nation’s Catholic bishops for their invitation and help in preparing his Apostolic Journey.

He also assured the nation of his continued care and concern.

“Tomorrow I will be leaving Greece, but I will not leave you!” said Pope Francis. “I will carry you with me in my memory and in my prayers. And I ask you too, please, to keep praying for me.”

Pope Francis returns to Rome on Monday morning, following a meeting in Athens with young people.

Highlights of Pope’s second day in Greece

In this video, we relive the highlights of Pope Francis’ second day in Greece, during which he met with refugees on the island of Lesbos and celebrated Mass with the Catholic community of Athens.
His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II visits Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunicature  (Vatican Media)

Ieronymos II visits with Pope Francis on eve of his return to Rome

The Orthodox Primate, Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, pays a courtesy visit to Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature to bid him farewell.

By Vatican News staff writer

His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece arrived at the Apostolic Nunciature just before 7 pm on Sunday evening to meet with Pope Francis on the eve of his return to Rome. The encounter between the Orthodox Archbishop and Pope Francis with their respective entourages took place in the Nunciature’s main room and lasted 30 minutes.

During the meeting the Pope and the Archbishop both signed the Book of Honour. Archbishop Ieronymos wrote: “This evening, 5 December 2021, Feast of Saint Sabbas, my entourage and I came to thank the Pontiff and our Most Holy Brother of Rome, Francis, for his visit to Greece. We bid him farewell and wish him a good journey. May the Most Holy God bless us.

Afterwards, Pope Francis wrote: “With joy and peace I meet my beloved brother Ieronymos II. I thank him for his fraternal goodness, his meekness, his patience. May the Lord give us the grace to continue together our path of brotherhood and peace. I thank His Beatitude Ieronymos II for his generosity in helping us walk together. May the Lord bless our two sister Churches and the Most Holy Mother of God help us.

In an exchange of gifts, His Beatitude gave Pope Francis two books: one on the sorrowful history of the Greeks in Asia Minor at the beginning of the 20th century and the other on those who died during the Greek revolution. Also, on behalf of a priest, he brought the Pope an image of the Madonna with the Baby Jesus. Pope Francis gave His Beatitude the medallion for this journey and the book, Statio Orbis of 27 March 2020, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV).

Catholics in Greece hoping for renewed ecumenical relations amid Pope’s visit

Catholics in Greece are praising Pope Francis’ visit as offering the opportunity for a new highwater mark for ecumenical relations with the Orthodox majority.

By Devin Watkins

It’s only Day Two of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey to Greece, but expats belonging to the Catholic minority are already expressing their hopes for a new season in day-to-day ecumenical relations with the Orthodox majority in Greece.

The Pope spent a good portion of his first day in the EU nation meeting with two Christian communities, speaking to both Catholics and Orthodox about the need for improved relations.

Passion to work together

As he met on Saturday afternoon with the primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of the Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, Pope Francis acknowledged the painful events in the past which have stained relations between East and West.

Following in the footsteps of Pope St. John Paul II, who visited Greece in 2001, the Pope asked for “forgiveness from God and our brothers and sisters for the mistakes committed by many Catholics.”

Speaking to the Catholic community in Greece just an hour later, Pope Francis called on the Church to cultivate “a heart desirous of creating communion amid human, cultural and religious differences.”

“The challenge is to develop a passion for the whole, which can lead us – Catholics, Orthodox, brothers and sisters of other creeds – to listen to one another, to dream and work together, to cultivate the ‘mystique’ of fraternity,” said the Pope.

Improving day-to-day interactions

Picking up that papal appeal, the Catholic community in Greece—which counts many expats among its ranks—expressed its hopes for a moment of renewed relations with the Orthodox majority.

Mariano Domingo, a Filipino Catholic living in Greece since 1989, said ecumenical relations improved greatly after St. John Paul II asked God for forgiveness for the Sack of Constantinople in 1204, which was carried out by Latin Christians during the Fourth Crusade.

Mr. Domingo, who works as a sacristan at the Catholic Cathedral in Athens, told Vatican News’ Francesca Sabatinelli that he remembers the Polish Pope’s 2001 visit as marking a change in day-to-day relations with Orthodox Christians.

Ever since that visit, Catholics and Orthodox Christians have celebrated Easter on the same Sunday, despite most Latin rite Catholics around the world celebrating it on a different date due to differences between the Gregorian and Julian calendars.

Mr. Domingo said he hopes Pope Francis’ visit and renewed apology will create another highwater mark in ecumenical relations which will benefit ordinary Catholics in Greece.

Confident trust in God

Another expat living in Greece, Italian-born Paolo Enoizi, said he felt the Pope found Catholics “thirsting for his message”.

Speaking to Vatican News’ Massimiliano Menichetti, the CEO of GasLog Partners, a Greece-based LNG shipping company, said Pope Francis urged the small Catholic community to trust in God despite being in the minority.

“His message [was focused on] the fact that you are in a country that is experiencing so many difficulties, internally and externally, you have the strength and the opportunity to welcome and harbor others,” said Mr. Enoizi. “In spite of all the difficulties, it is an opportunity for everyone.”

Paolo Enoizi on the Pope’s Greece visit

Cypriots pleased with local press coverage of Pope’s visit to Cyprus

In the wake of Pope Francis’ visit to Cyprus, a local journalist expresses appreciation for the way the Apostolic Journey was covered in the press and for the message the Pope delivered to the EU nation.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Pope Francis spent 3 days in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, touching on a variety of topics which resonated deeply with local residents.

Speaking to Vatican News’ Christine Seuss, Peppinos Mousas, a local Maronite journalist, described the impact the Pope’s visit has already had on Cyprus.

A full transcript of the interview can be found below:

As a person involved a bit with the press, I had a close look on all the issues in the media in the days before, and even now that the Pope has concluded his visit and he’s already left the island. I could say that the change has been a very big. It’s huge.

The coverage that the Pope’s visit received during these days—the days that he was here—was incredible. All the TV channels were showing almost everything, all his activities on the island were live on television. I mean, this never happens with the visit of anybody else on the island.

And of course, as a journalist you know that the media is capturing the pulse of the people and what’s going on, so that they can produce their own decisions.

There was not that much coverage in the days before the Pope was here. I mean, very few, very few articles and very little coverage on the local press or the electronic media. But this has changed during these few days.

The speeches of the Holy Father, his whole attitude, the way he was looking into different issues, the way he was analyzing these various, huge and complicated issues for us, has impressed everyone and has made everyone think and speak about the Holy Father with very, very beautiful words. I have read some very beautiful comments on the media.

Q: Could you give some example of those comments?

I was reading a few comments coming not from Catholic people in Cyprus, but from Greek Orthodox people, who only had a very short experience of Pope Francis.

They were saying things like: ‘what a simple way of looking into things, we wish we had many people on the island looking into this big issues that we have here, with the simplicity and loving attitude.’

And of course, people were a little bit surprised, let’s say. Sometimes they didn’t know about the Pope or they didn’t know about the head of the Catholic Church in advance. They didn’t know many things, but when they meet him, when they see and they listen to his words, things are much changed. Definitely.

Q: And how did the news and the people react on the news that the Pope would—not directly, but indirectly—be taking around 50 migrants from Cyprus to Italy?

The government’s official reaction was that they were very much satisfied that the Pope is doing this gesture and as a symbolic gesture; he’s taking some of these refugees and immigrants with him back to Rome.

And of course, on the official side they were happy that the Pope touched on all these issues when he was on the island and understood the role that he is playing on the issue of immigration.

He said that, of course, Cyprus is doing a lot, but it’s up to its limits. I mean, we cannot do much more in Cyprus. So, this was a good message towards Europe, towards Western countries, to look into the matter more closely.

This gesture was really well received by the people, who are also very sensitive about this matter, and they are happy to see that at least some of these people have been taken to Western countries like Italy, where they will certainly have a good future.

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