In a press release issued Tuesday, 5 April 2016, the Permanent Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece announced Pope Francis’ intention to visit Greece, to help raise awareness of the international community about the refugee problem.
For this visit, the Holy Synod proposed the island of Lesvos, one of the Greek islands that has intensely experienced, and continues to experience the tragic refugee problem.
In this context, an invitation has been sent to Pope Francis, but also to His Holiness Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
The personality and authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch, together with the importance of the presence of Pope Francis, send over the world a very strong alarming signal to the international community to alleviate the refugee problem and, at the same time, to take the necessary measures to protect Christians who suffer cruelly in the wider region of the Middle East and other fellow people who pass through trials.
The presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch on the island of Lesvos during the visit of Pope Francis was confirmed by a statement issued Tuesday by the Secretariat of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, saying that this measure and initiative of the Religious Leaders will encourage and strengthen the thousands of suffering refugees, while inspiring the implementation of appropriate actions for the protection of the afflicted Christian Communities as well as the proper response to the critical refugee situation.
According to Greek press, during 14-15 April, Pope Francis will meet the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece, but also the president of Greece, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and the Greek Prime minister, Alexis Tsipras.