From migrants to ecumenism, the Pope embraces humanity

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The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem looks back on the apostolic journey to Cyprus and Greece. Migration “neither a problem nor a resource” but a “fact” to be faced with “pastoral choices”. From economic divisions to one-on-one meetings, “another wealth” is possible. Walls are “a buffer, not the solution”.

08 Dec. 2021


By Dario Salvi

The most significant moment of Pope Francis’ recent trip to Cyprus was “ecumenical prayer with the migrants” in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in the ancient walls of Nicosia. It is there that we glimpsed the “personality” of the pontiff, notably “in his improvised speech” and “in his meeting with the mothers”. Parents and children “waiting” to know “what will be their fate”, the Pope indeed spoke to them “of his proximity”.

Here is the summary of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, entrusted to AsiaNews, on his return from having accompanied the Pope to the Mediterranean island and to Greece. He recounts how Pope Francis “fearlessly kisses when everyone says to keep a distance in relationships” because of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the contrary, from him comes the invitation to “encounter” with gestures, words, in ecumenical dialogue.

The Latin Patriarch, under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Cyprus, speaks of a “short but intense journey as the Pope has accustomed us to” lately and which “has affected two aspects: the meeting with the small Catholic community and the relationship with the Orthodox Church. “

He continues that on the island “there are very good respectful relations between Catholics and Orthodox” and this is an aspect “to be taken into consideration” in a universal perspective of dialogue. Here, he warns, in a land “divided” and which will remain so “for a long time”, there are “sufferings” every day that must be “heard”.

The question of migrations was in the foreground “especially on the return of the Holy Father to Lesbos”, notes the Latin primate, where “the phenomenon is stronger” and “the impact is greater”. However, he continues, Cyprus remains a “bridge between West and East” and brings together “all the dynamics taking place in the Mediterranean”.

Not only migrants, but the energy issue surrounding gas supplies as well as economic and financial interests. The Pope recalled that there is another richness which is that of “the human being: it has brought attention back to people”.

Migrants “are neither a problem nor a resource but a reality, a fact” and even before “sociological and economic theories” of “pastoral choices” are necessary. “We are not interested in color and whether their presence is legal or not, they are here and they are part of our Church and we have to face this reality.”

It is precisely in the question of migrants that there is the main difference between the apostolic journey of Benedict XVI in 2010 and that of Francis. “On the contrary, there is a deep continuity in the relationship with the Orthodox Church, which has developed.”

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem returned to ecumenical relations with the Orthodox world, which he defined as “very composite” and for this reason “it is never simple”. The stop in Cyprus, he explains, “did not bring anything more, but it put a fixed point” and placed in the center of attention “a situation to indicate it to others as well. Churches “. In dialogue, he asserts, the Orthodox world must understand that “it loses nothing” but gains everything in opportunities for enrichment.

In the Catholic community – and not only – of Cyprus, there was “a great expectation” of the presence of the Pontiff and the participation went “beyond expectations” despite the short time, just over a month , to prepare the trip from the announcement. The Pope also spoke of dividing walls, a growing phenomenon from Cyprus to the Holy Land, from Poland to the border between Mexico and the United States, but with “different dynamics”. “The walls,” Patriarch Pizzaballa concluded, “are just the last link in the chain, and the answer is to help people open their eyes, claiming that [walls] are just a buffer, but they are not the solution.Asia News


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