12/07/2021, 11.23
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Pizzaballa: from migrants to ecumenism, the Pope embraces humanity

by Dario Salvi

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem reviews 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 individual encounters, "another wealth" is possible. Walls are "a buffer, not the solution".

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The most significant moment of Pope Francis recent trip to Cyprus was "the ecumenical prayer with migrants" in the Basilica of the Holy Cross, within the ancient walls of Nicosia. It was where we caught a glimpse of the pontiff’s "personality" especially "in his unscripted speech" and "in his meeting with mothers". Parents and children "waiting" to know "what their fate will be ", in fact to them the Pope spoke "of his closeness".

This is the summary of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, entrusted to AsiaNews, on his return from accompanying the Pope to the Mediterranean island and Greece. He speaks of how Pope Francis "embraces without fear, when everyone says to maintain a distance in relations" 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 whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction Cyprus falls, speaks of a "brief but intense trip as the Pope has accustomed us" in recent times and that "touched on 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 "divided" land and that will remain so "for a long time", there are every day "sufferings" that need to be "heard".

The question of migration was forefront "especially in the Holy Father’s return 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 gathers within it "all the dynamics taking place in the Mediterranean."

Not only migrants, but the energy issue surrounding the supplies of gas as well as economic and financial interests. The Pope recalled that there is another wealth that 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" "pastoral choices" are needed. "We are not interested in the colour and whether their presence is legal or not, they are here and they are part of our Church and we have to deal with this reality."

Precisely in the issue of migrants there is the main difference between the apostolic journey of Benedict XVI in 2010 and that of Francis. "There is instead a deep continuity in the relationship with the Orthodox Church, which has been growing."

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, "has not brought something more, but it has put a fixed point" and has placed at the center of attention "a situation to indicate it also to other Churches". In dialogue, he affirms, 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 "great expectation" for the pontiff's presence and participation went "beyond expectations" despite the short time, just over a month, to prepare the trip from the announcement. The pope also spoke of walls that divide, a growing phenomenon from Cyprus to the Holy Land, from Poland to the border between Mexico and the United States, albeit with "different dynamics." "Walls," Patriarch Pizzaballa concluded, "are only the last link in the chain, and the answer lies in helping people open their eyes, affirming that [walls] are only a buffer, but they are not the solution.

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Pope in Greece: 'God is offended' by indifference towards migrants
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