When Pope Francis was in Greece and Cyprus this weekend, he sent some very clear messages to Europe and the West in general, warning about what he sees as the weakened state of democracy due to a rising nationalist sentiment and chastising the global community for its indifference to migrants.
On his last day in Greece, Pope Francis met with young people, telling them to get off social media and invest in real relationships and to avoid the “siren calls” of passing fads, finding their worth in God’s love instead.
Celebrating Mass Dec. 5 in Athens’ Megaron concert hall, the pontiff touched on a theme he had explored in depth with Catholic leaders the day before: the blessing and spiritual advantage of being a small community without power and without pretenses.
Pope Francis arrived in Greece Saturday issuing a searing critique of the state of Europe, where he said democracy is waning in favor of a nationalist agenda that has forgotten the pursuit of solidarity and common good that he insisted are characteristic of the Old Continent’s roots.
On his second day in Cyprus, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the island’s Catholic community and said the only way to truly recover from the tensions that still divide the country is to seek healing in Jesus together, as brothers and sisters.
The Lebanese designer for Pope Francis’ vestments for Mass in Cyprus chose simple fabric and symbols that figure prominently in the island nation.
The Catholic Church is a mosaic of different rites and cultures and must show the world the beauty of welcoming all people as brothers and sisters, Pope Francis told the Catholics of Cyprus.
Pope Francis asked visitors in St. Peter’s Square to join him for a moment of silent prayer for migrants, especially those who recently drowned in the English Channel and in the Mediterranean and those who are freezing on the border of Belarus and Poland.
Just days ahead of Pope Francis’ Dec. 2-6 visit to Greece and Cyprus, both he and the Cypriot ambassador to the Holy See have issued statements highlighting, among other things, the urgency of the migration issue for the island nation and the broader Mediterranean region.
Visiting Cyprus and Greece in early December, Pope Francis will have several meetings with the countries’ Orthodox leaders and with the migrants and refugees their nations host.