Pope Francis asks for prayers ahead of visit to Lesbos

IMAGE: CNS photo/Stoyan Nenov, Reuters


— Pope Francis asked Christians to pray for him before embarking on a one-day
visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.

“I will go
together with my brothers,” Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Orthodox
Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all of Greece, “to express our closeness and solidarity to the
refugees, the citizens of Lesbos and to all the Greek people who have been so
generous in welcoming them,” the pope said April 13 at his weekly general

“I ask you to please accompany me
with prayers, invoking the light and power of the Holy Spirit and the maternal
intercession of the Virgin Mary,” he added.

The pope, along with the two top Orthodox leaders of the
region, will visit the island April 16 to highlight the dramatic situation of
refugees stranded there.

Lesbos is just a few miles from the coast of Turkey, and for
years migrants and refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East have been
arriving on this and other nearby islands in an effort to reach Western Europe.

Pope Francis
“wants to be there in order to draw attention to the sense of solidarity
and responsibility” of all Christians, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi,
the Vatican spokesman, told reporters April 7.

The pope wants to go to Lesbos for the same reasons that drew
him to visit the Italian island of Lampedusa: to point to “the reality of
refugees and immigrants” and because “he sees an important
emergency” unfolding there, he said.

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