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Pope Francis Arrives in Greece

Pope Francis Greece
Pope Francis with President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou during the Greek National Anthem at the Presidential Mansion. Credit: ERT video screenshot

Pope Francis arrived in Greece on Saturday morning for a three-day visit as head of the Catholic Church and leader of the Vatican state.

The prelate and state leader arrived from Cyprus in Athens at 11:10 am with a special Aegean Airlines flight, accompanied by a pool of journalists from several countries.

This is the second visit of the prelate to Greece. The first was in April 2016 when he visited the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos and prayed with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias, the Ambassador of the Vatican to Greece, and leaders of the Greek Catholic Church welcomed the Pope at the airport.

The prelate and the minister met briefly and privately at the airport before heading to the Presidential Mansion, where Pope Francis was formally welcomed at 12:00 noon.

President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou met Pope Francis, who extended the invitation to the Greek official to visit the Vatican.

In his address, Pope Francis said that Europe and the World would not be the same today without Greece.

Pope Francis also met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis before meeting successively with local authorities, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece and Greek Catholic Church leaders.

Pope Francis Greece
Pope Francis with Kyriakos Mitsotakis at Greece’s Presidential palace. Credit: Prime Minister’s Press Office

Mitsotakis met with Pope Francis and Cardinal Secretary of State of Vatican City, Pietro Parolin at the Presidential Palace.

“We still have very vivid memories from the visit of His Holiness in 2016, when he came to Greece during the refugee crisis,” the Greek prime minister said.

“I am sure that tomorrow when he visits Lesvos, he will see a much-improved situation,” Mitsotakis added.

The Greek Premier and His Holiness also spoke about the new refugee crisis in Afghanistan with Mitsotakis saying that Greece tries to establish a safe passageway for the refugees:

“What we want is to ensure that there are legal routes for migrants. For example, we welcomed more than 700 women from Afghanistan with their families and did everything we could to offer them international protection.”

To Greece after Cyprus

pope Francis arrived in Greece after a two-day visit to Cyprus in what the Vatical called an “Apostolic journey.”

President Nicos Anastasiades stated that Pope Francis’ decision to visit a small island like Cyprus proves the greatness of the Pope’s personality, to the peoples who suffer and who suffer violations of international law.

“On behalf of the entire Cypriot people, I express my gratitude and I welcome you,” Anastasiades said.

On his behalf, Pope Francis said that he comes to Cyprus “with the same desire as Apostle Barnabas: to see the grace of God at work in your Church and your land, to rejoice with you at the wondrous things the Lord has done.”

The prelate likened Cyprus to a “precious pearl in the heart of the Mediterranean.”

Who is Pope Francis

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936, to Italian immigrants. As a young man, Bergoglio underwent surgery to remove part of one of his lungs after suffering a serious infection. He went to technical school to become a chemical technician before beginning training at the Diocesan Seminary of Villa Devoto. Bergoglio studied theology and received a degree from the Colegio of San José from 1967 to 1970, and finished his doctoral thesis in theology in Freiburg, Germany in 1986.

Pope Francis Greece
Pope Francis with Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Mansion. Credit: ERT screenshot

He served as archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 to 2013, as cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church of Argentina from 2001 to 2013, and as president of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from 2005 to 2011.

Bergoglio became Pope Francis on March 13, 2013, when he was named the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

In the same year, he was named Person of the Year by Time magazine.

Since his inauguration, Pope Francis has embarked on a tenure characterized by humility and outspoken support of the world’s poor and marginalized people.

He has been involved actively in areas of political diplomacy and environmental advocacy as the Pope Francis previous visit to Greece shows.


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