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In Athens, Pope Francis a Europe “torn by nationalist egotism”

Pope Francis pointed out this Saturday, December 4, on the first day of his visit to Athens, the responsibility of Europe in the migration crisis and deplored that it is “Sometimes blocked” and “Torn apart by nationalist egoisms”.

The 84-year-old Argentine pontiff, who arrived shortly after 11 a.m. (9 a.m. GMT) at Athens airport, regretted that “Europe persists in procrastinating” in the face of migrant arrivals “Instead of being a motor of solidarity”.

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He was speaking before the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou and the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as well as an audience of Catholic figures and civil society who warmly applauded him at the Presidential Palace in Athens.

Pope Francis to welcome 50 migrants from Cyprus

If Pope Francis visited the Greek island of Lesbos in 2016, where he will return on Sunday, it is the first visit of a pope to Athens in twenty years, since the visit of John Paul II in May 2001 He had previously spent two days in Cyprus where he strongly lambasted “The wall of hatred” raised against migrants, fifty of whom will be transferred to Rome, according to Nicosia.

In Athens, the pope pontiff recalled that Greece had “Received on some of its islands a number of migrant brothers and sisters greater than that of the inhabitants themselves”. Gold “The European community, torn apart by nationalist egoisms, sometimes appears blocked and uncoordinated, instead of being a motor of solidarity”, he said in front of the political authorities.

“Decline of democracy”

Pope Francis further noted “A decline in democracy, and not only on the European continent”, considering that “Democracy requires the participation and involvement of everyone”, when “Authoritarianism is hasty and the easy assurances offered by populisms seem tempting”.

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Their names were Aleksandra, Abdulfatah, Yasser… They died in Calais for lack of asylum.

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A few minutes earlier, President Sakellaropoulou had mentioned the“Humanity of the Greeks and the disproportionate burden they have borne” in the management of this crisis. “Our country tries as much as possible to prevent the illegal trafficking of people”, she stressed. The President also thanked the Pope for his “Warm support” during the conversion of the former Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, in order to “Preserve as a universal symbol of religious worship and an emblematic monument of world heritage”.

Pope said to come to Athens “To quench one’s thirst at the sources of fraternity” and strengthen its ties with its “Brothers of faith”, Orthodox Christians, separated from the Catholic Church since the schism of 1054 between Rome and Constantinople. Francis spoke with the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Greece Hieronym II and his entourage.

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