Pope could bring migrants from Cyprus to Italy

02 December, 09:00

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, 02 DIC - Vatican Press Office Director said the option "is being studied" The possibility that Pope Francis could bring a group of refugees back to Italy after his visit to the island of Cyprus, which will begin Thursday, December 2, is an "option being studied", according to Vatican Press Office Director Matteo Bruni. Pope Francis brought some migrants to Italy after his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos in April 2016. Bruni's comments came in response to journalists during a briefing on the trip that, from December 4 to 6, will also bring the pope to Greece and Lesbos.

    A journey with broader themes "We will see. This trip is not in the same terms as that visit to Lesbos; it contemplates even broader themes. If the pope brings someone with him, we will see," Bruni said. "Options of this type were being studied, but the complexity of the legislation does not allow us to give definitive answers. On the other hand, generally these things are said after. We will see.

    In any case, it would not be a humanitarian corridor, but a relocation, possibly being a movement of refugees from one country to another in Europe". The spokesman of the Cypriot government has already spoken of this possibility, in an almost official form, but Bruni did not want to say anything else.

    Lesbos chosen because it is now 'a symbolic place' When asked why Pope Francis is returning to Lesbos again after his 2016 visit, the Vatican spokesman said the situation will be different. "Among other things, there will not be the same refugees, in part they have been moved elsewhere. in their place others have arrived". But the choice of Lesbos depends mainly on the fact that "it has become in some ways a symbolic place".

    "There is a symbolic value to this place, and looking back to the visit in April 2016, one recalls how the pope touched first-hand those people's pain, and the expectation towards Western countries of being welcomed and finally having a place to lay one's head", Bruni said, recalling the moving story that a man who had lost his wife told the pope. On Lesbos, on Sunday 5 December, Francis will visit the "Reception and Identification Center" in Mavrovouni. After fires in recent years at the Moria camp there are now several thousand refugees at Mavrovouni, mainly from Afghanistan, but also Iraq, Syria and various African countries, constantly under very harsh living conditions and an endless wait for asylum permits. At the end of the official ceremony in the camp, and before leaving for Athens, the pope will greet and talk to some refugees and visit their lodgings. That the migration issue occupies a central place in Bergoglio's 35th trip abroad is also confirmed by the ecumenical prayer with migrants that he will hold on Friday 3 December in the Church of the Holy Cross in Nicosia.

    Dialogue with the Orthodox, to unite the Mediterranean Pope Francis also outlined other topics in his video message, in which he speaks of his "pilgrimage to the sources": to the "sources of fraternity", he says, thus entering the field of ecumenism and relations between local Orthodox majorities and the Catholic "little flocks". To the "ancient sources of Europe", so that the Mediterranean, which today has become "a great cemetery", returns to unite rather than divide, "especially in this period in which the fight against the pandemic still requires a lot of effort and the climate crisis is looming heavily". Finally, to the "sources of humanity", "in the conviction that the sources of common living will once again flourish only in fraternity and integration: together".

    (A handout picture provided by Vatican Media shows Pope Francis in audience greeting children participating in the 'Open' Hospitality March, on World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Vatican City, 10 September 2021. Photo: EPA/VATICAN MEDIA HANDOUT) (ANSAmed).

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