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Pope Francis in Lesbos, Greece

Pope Francis speaking at the Port of Lesbos, Greece, April 16th, 2016.
Pope Francis speaking at the Port of Lesbos, Greece, April 16th, 2016.

Today Pope Francis traveled to Lesbos, Greece. It was also reported that the journey was rather spontaneous to some degree. During the flight he sent greetings to heads of state of the nations he flew over (full text), and him and those accompanying him sent message of birthday good wishes to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI (press release in Italian). As well, Pope Francis addressed the journalists on board (full text).

Upon arrival at the Lesbos airport, there was a welcome ceremony (full video). He was greeted by and met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (press release), the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, and the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II (also called Jerome II). Throughout the day, Bartholomew and Ieronymos II traveled with him everywhere.

At Lesbos, he visited the Mòria Refugee Camp (full video, summary video). Also while at the camp, a woman there broke down in tears before him (summary video). Additionally at the camp, Ieronymos II (full text), Bartholomew I (full text), and Pope Francis (full text) gave addresses on the tragedy there and on God’s plans for the planet Earth, and together they signed a joint declaration (full text) regarding that all people should enjoy remaining in their homelands in peace. Here is a few good quotes from the declaration:

As leaders of our respective Churches, we are one in our desire for peace and in our readiness to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation. While acknowledging the efforts already being made to provide help and care to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, we call upon all political leaders to employ every means to ensure that individuals and communities, including Christians, remain in their homelands and enjoy the fundamental right to live in peace and security.

For our part, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, we firmly and wholeheartedly resolve to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians. We reaffirm our conviction that ‘reconciliation [among Christians] involves promoting social justice within and among all peoples… Together we will do our part....’

He also visited Mytilene, the Port of Lesbos, where Bartholomew and Pope Francis gave addresses by the seaside (full text, full video, summary video). Additionally, the three leaders cast laurel wreaths into the sea, in memory of the lives lost in the Mediterranean, observed a span of silence, and then they each said prayers (full text).

Afterwards, there was a departure ceremony at the airport (full video). As well, Pope Francis decided to take in twelve Muslim refugees to fly with him back to Rome to help them (more details, summary video 1, summary video 2). Additionally, here is a really really good interview with one of the families Pope Francis brought back from Lesbos.

Pope Francis welcoming refugee families from Lesbos, Greece to Rome, who he volunteered to aid, April 16th, 2016.
Pope Francis welcoming refugee families from Lesbos, Greece to Rome, who he volunteered to aid, April 16th, 2016.

And on the plane ride back to Rome, Pope Francis sent telegrams of greetings to heads of state of the nations he flew over (full text), and he gave a press conference (full text, summary video 1, summary video 2). Of note, during the press conference he spoke of many things, including his meeting with Bernie Sanders.

Upon returning to Rome, Pope Francis journeyed from Rome’s Ciampino Airport to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to pray, before returning to the Vatican.

As well today, Pope Francis made a bunch of appointments & gave a consent, sent a tweet which honored Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s birthday:

Today is Benedict XVI’s birthday. Let us remember him in our prayers and thank God for giving him to the Church and the world. (link)

and posted to Instagram:

We have come to call the attention of the world to this grave humanitarian crisis and to plead for its resolution. #lesbos (link)

And that’s the Pope Francis news for the day!


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