Pope Francis arrived at Athens airport on Saturday morning for a two-and-a-half-day visit., the first by the Pope to the Greek capital in 20 years, confirmed a journalist from the news agency France Press agency.
The Pope arrived shortly after 11:00 (09:00 GMT) in Athens. There he plans to speak Three speeches in the afternoon, before the authorities, the Orthodox Archbishop, and then before the representatives of the Catholic Church..
The last visit of the Pope to the Greek capital was in May 2001 with John Paul II. The Argentine pope had traveled to Greece in 2016, but his stay was limited to the island of Lesbos, the gateway to thousands of migrants to Europe.
As during his two days in Cyprus, Francis goes there “quench their thirst for sources of brotherhood” and strengthen ties with their “brethren in the faith,” Orthodox Christians, separated from the Catholic Church since the eastern division of 1054 between ancient Rome and Constantinople.
In a video posted shortly before he left Rome, the pope introduces himself as a “Hajj” to meet “everyone, not just Catholics”, a 1.2% minority in a country where the state-linked orthodox religion predominates.
On Saturday, he will meet with the President Katrina Sakellaropouloufirst Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis And with the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church, Jerome II.
He will then meet with the country’s Catholic community, who consider “the presence of the Holy Father in Greece an encouragement,” according to Marcus Vosculos, a theologian and pastor on the island of Tinos.
Return to Lesbos
Your two-and-a-half day stay in Greece will be marked with A new visit Sunday to the island of Lesbos, the emblem of the migration crisisWhere he goes “to the sources of humanity” to defend asylum and the “integration” of refugees.
On Friday, in Cyprus, Pope Francis asked ‘Open our eyes’ to the ‘slavery’ and ‘torture’ that migrants suffer in the camps. According to the Cypriot authorities, 50 migrants, 10 of whom are in an illegal situation who are being held, will be transferred to Rome.
Quarantine asked NGOs to defend immigrants to meet with him so that he Mediation to end alleged returns of exiles from Greece to Turkey.
The “Godfather” is eagerly awaited on Lesbos, where about thirty new asylum seekers arrived on Wednesday.
We are waiting for you with open armsSaid Perth, a Cameroonian wants the Pope “to pray for us because of the insecurity we have experienced and to help us overcome it with faith.”
During his “short” visit to Mavrovoni Square, “He will clearly take care of the refugees” and will meet with two families “selected at random.”He said Friday in the middle be Deputy Domain Manager, Dimitris Favias.
About 900 police will be deployed during their exodus to the Greek island and around the hastily set up camp after the September 2020 fire at the Moria compound, which the Pope visited five years ago.
Drones, armored vehicles, and clogged streetsThe Greek capital will also have a robust security apparatus until the pope’s march on Monday morning, in anticipation of possible anti-pope demonstrations.
Although the climate is better than in 2001, during the first visit of the Pope to Greece, it is inside the Greek complex “Some well-known anti-Catholic fanatics”Pierre Salimbert, head of the Jesuit community in Greece, told AFP.
The most famous of these is the Metropolitan Sarov Piraeuswhich described the visit of Francisco de “not polite”According to the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
Even 2,000 police will be mobilized in Athens to counter possible protests by Orthodox fundamentalists. “They will be few, but noisy,” warns theologian Petros Panagiotopoulos, professor at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
20 years ago, John Paul II asked forgiveness for the sins of the Catholics against the Orthodox, referring to the siege and sack of Constantinople in 1204.
However, the Catholic Archbishop of Athens, Theodore Kodidis, hopes that “individuals or groups will protest and return to the weight of history”.
But he does not see that they have a “great influence” and sees in this meeting with the Orthodox Church “A gesture of hope and progress”.
And although a government source described the visit as “important,” Many Greeks are not interested in this eventKodidis notes. Because “this is an orthodox country, The Pope is still a distant figure“.
(With information from AFP)