Pope Francis sends message to people of Cyprus and Greece before Apostolic visit
BEFORE THE APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO CYPRUS AND GREECE
(2-6 December 2021)
Dear brothers and sisters of Cyprus and Greece, kaliméra sas! [good morning!]
There are only a few days left for our meeting and I am preparing to come as a pilgrim to your magnificent lands, blessed by history, by culture and by the Gospel! I come to you with joy, precisely in the name of the Gospel, in the footsteps of the first great missionaries, especially the Apostles Paul and Barnabas. It is good to come back to the origins, and it is important for the Church in order to rediscover the joy of the Gospel. In this spirit I am waiting for this pilgrimage “to the springs”, and I ask everyone to help me to get ready with his prayers.
By meeting you I will quench my thirst at the springs of fraternity, which are so precious now, when we have just begun a universal synodal journey. There is “a synodal grace”, an apostolic fraternity that I am longing for and with great respect: it is the visit to You, dear Beatitudes Chrysostomos and Hieronymos, Heads of the local Orthodox Churches. As a brother in 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 sisters and brothers, gathered in those lands in small flocks, loved so tenderly by the Father and to which Jesus, the Good Shepherd, repeats: “Fear not, little flock” (Lk 12,32). I come with affection to bring you the encouragement of the whole Catholic Church.
The forthcoming visit will give me the opportunity to drink as well from the ancient springs of Europe: Cyprus, the offshoot of the Holy Land on the continent; Greece, the home of classical culture. But even today Europe cannot ignore the Mediterranean, the sea that hosted the spread of the Gospel and the development of great civilisations. The mare nostrum, which connects so many lands, urges us to sail together, and not to split up by going our separate ways, especially in this time when the fight against the pandemic is still demanding a shared commitment and the climate crisis is impending heavily over all us.
The sea, which embraces many peoples, reminds us with its open ports that the sources of living together lie in mutual acceptance. Even now I feel welcomed by your affection and I thank those who have been preparing my visit for a long time. But I am also thinking of those who, in recent years and still today, have been fleeing from war and poverty, landing on the shores of the continent or elsewhere, and finding 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 wellsprings of humanity, I will go to Lesbos again, in the conviction that the sources of common life will only flourish again in fraternity and integration: together. There is no other way, and with this hope (“ilusión”) I come to you.
Dear brothers and sisters, with these feelings I ardently long to meet you all, all! Not only Catholics, but all of you! And on all of you I invoke the blessing of the Most High, bringing even now before Him your faces and your expectations, your worries and your hopes. Na íste pánda kalá! [May you always be well!]