Pope departs from Greece wrapping up his 35th Apostolic Journey

Pope Francis boards the papal plane at Athens Airport on Monday to return to Rome, ending his six-day visit to Cyprus and Greece.

Dec 06, 2021

The Pope shakes hands with Nikos Dendias, Greece's foreign minister


By Francesca Merlo
Pope Francis’s 35th Apostolic Visit abroad has come to an end. He concluded his 6-day trip to Cyprus and Greece with a meeting with Greece's young people, before he was sent off with an official departure ceremony from Athens airport.

The journey from Athens to Rome's Ciampino airport takes just over two hours, during which time the usual in-flight press conference takes place with journalists on board the papal plane.

Pope Francis’ trip has been a significant one for Greeks, who saw the Pope's visit as a message for Christian unity for a country with a Catholic minority and an Orthodox majority.

The Pope, in fact, met with a delegation from the Greek Orthodox Church, in which he recalled the metaphor of the age-old olive trees present in Greece, comparing their deep and sustaining roots to the shared, apostolic roots of Christianity which have endured over the centuries.

He also met privately with the Orthodox Primate, Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, who paid him a courtesy visit at the Apostolic Nunciature on the eve of his departure back to Rome.

Another important aspect of the Pope’s journey was his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, which he had previously been to in 2016.

The Pope often appeals for humanity for the migrants attempting to cross borders and seas in search for a better life, and the island of Lesbos has seen throusands of migrants and refugees as they reach the island in an attempt to travel to Europe.

During a meeting with some of those currently living in camps on the island, Pope Francis asked every man and woman, “to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to death those on the fringes.”

The meeting with young people at the Saint Dionysius School of the Ursuline Sisters in Athens closed a journey that aimed to give impetus to the new generations grappling with a future marked by uncertainties and fears.

One young man, Filippo Parusis, described the Pope’s visit as important “even for those who do not believe”.

He told Vatican News' Massimiliano Menichetti in Athens that because the Pope is someone who cares about “all of the different communities of this world”, having him visit and share his messages is a wonderful opportunity, especially for "a young man who is interested in the social problems of the world."--Vatican News

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