12/04/2021, 19.11
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From Greece, Pope Francis invokes change of direction in politics, to stop retreat from democracy

Democracy "complex, whereas authoritarianism is peremptory and populism’s easy answers appear attractive. In some societies, concerned for security and dulled by consumerism, weariness and malcontent can lead to a sort of skepticism about democracy". “Worldly poisons" have contaminated the common "apostolic roots" of Catholics and Orthodox throughout history.

Athens (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis has invoked a change of direction in politics, with regard to migrants and the environment, and urged Christians to view their differences through the lens of the communion that has existed between them since apostolic times.

Arriving this morning in Greece, the second and last stop of his 35th trip outside Italy, Pope Francis paid homage to the culture to which we owe the very idea of democracy and the first spread of Christianity.

Europe, politics and democracy were the central themes of Francis' long speech in the presidential palace in Athens, where he was received by the President of the Republic Ekaterini Sakellaropoul because of his desire to make a difference. He then met with members of the government and diplomatic corps, religious and civil authorities, and representatives of society and the world of culture.

Recalling the roots of democracy due to Greece, Francis spoke of "a retreat from democracy". "It equires participation and involvement on the part of all; consequently, it demands hard work and patience. It is complex, whereas authoritarianism is peremptory and populism’s easy answers appear attractive. In some societies, concerned for security and dulled by consumerism, weariness and malcontent can lead to a sort of skepticism about democracy. Yet universal participation is something essential; not simply to attain shared goals, but also because it corresponds to what we are: social beings, at once unique and interdependent.

he remedy is not to be found in an obsessive quest for popularity, in a thirst for visibility, in a flurry of unrealistic promises or in adherence to forms of ideological colonization, but in good politics. For politics is, and ought to be in practice, a good thing, as the supreme responsibility of citizens and as the art of the common good. So that the good can be truly shared, particular attention, I would even say priority, should be given to the weaker strata of society. This is the direction to take. One of Europe’s founding fathers indicated it as an antidote to the polarizations that enliven democracy, but also risk debilitating it.”

"A a change of direction is needed, even as fears and theories, amplified by virtual communication, are daily spread to create division. Let us help one another, instead, to pass from partisanship to participation; from committing ourselves to supporting our party alone to engaging ourselves actively for the promotion of all".

And "the European Community, prey to forms of nationalistic self-interest, rather than being an engine of solidarity, appears at times blocked and uncoordinated. In the past, ideological conflicts prevented the building of bridges between Eastern and Western Europe; today the issue of migration has led to breaches between South and North as well".

Again, those migrants for whom the Pope continues to ask for solidarity, as he said again yesterday in Cyprus, and among whom he will go tomorrow for that visit to Lesvos that represents perhaps the most awaited moment of the trip. " would like to encourage once again a global, communitarian vision with regard to the issue of migration, and to urge that attention be paid to those in greatest need, so that, in proportion to each country’s means, they will be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated, in full respect for their human rights and dignity. Rather than a present obstacle, this represents a guarantee for a future marked by peaceful coexistence with all those who increasingly are forced to flee in search of a new home and new hope. They are the protagonists of a horrendous modern odyssey".

The second appointment of the day was with the Orthodox Church. In fact, Francis went first to the Orthodox Archbishopric of Greece for a courtesy visit to Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and all of Greece, and then to the Orthodox Archbishopric of Greece.

I came, said the Pope, "with great respect and humility, to renew that apostolic communion and nourish fraternal charity". It has apostolic "common roots". "Saint Paul speaks of them when he stresses the importance of being “built upon the foundation of the apostles” (Eph 2:20). Those roots, growing from the seed of the Gospel, began to bear abundant fruit precisely in Hellenic culture: I think of the early Fathers of the Church and the first great ecumenical councils. Tragically, in later times we grew apart. Worldly concerns poisoned us, weeds of suspicion increased our distance and we ceased to nurture communion.” “History makes its weight felt, and here, today, I feel the need to ask anew for the forgiveness of God and of our brothers and sisters for the mistakes committed by many Catholics. Yet we are comforted by the certainty that our roots are apostolic and that, notwithstanding the twists and turns of time, what God planted continues to grow and bear fruit in the same Spirit.”

"Yet," he added, "Yet if our distinctive traditions and features, our “otherness” is not – as a great theologian has said – “somehow balanced by communion, only with difficulty can it give life to a satisfactory culture” (J. ZIZIOULAS, Comunione e alterità, Rome 2016, 16). Fraternal communion brings God’s blessing. In the Psalms, it is compared to “precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard” (Ps 133:2). Indeed, the Spirit poured into our hearts impels us to seek ever greater fraternity, to structure ourselves in communion. So let us fearlessly help one another to worship God and to serve our neighbour, without proselytism and in full respect for the freedom of others, for as Saint Paul wrote, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17). I pray that the Spirit of love will overcome every form of resistance and make us builders of communion. Indeed, “if love truly casts out fear and fear is transformed into love, then we will discover that what saves is unity” (SAINT GREGORY OF NYSSA, Homily 15 on the Song of Songs).”

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