Rome (Italy). From 2 to 6 December 2021, Pope Francis makes his 35th apostolic journey to Cyprus and Greece in the heart of the Mediterranean, as a pilgrim in the footsteps of the first great missionaries, in particular Paul and Barnabas.
In the video message before leaving, the Holy Father defines it as a lo “pilgrimage to the sources”:
- to the sources of fraternity: to walk in synodality, with respect and apostolic fraternity with the Orthodox Churches. “As a brother in faith I will have the grace to be received by you and to meet you in the name of the Lord of peace.” And to encourage Catholic brothers and sisters, ‘little flocks’ in those lands.
- to the ancient sources of Europe: lands of the development of great civilizations and cultural flourishing, which across the Mediterranean Sea saw the spread of the Gospel, “the mare nostrum, which connects many lands, invites us to sail together, not to divide us by each going their own way.”
- to the sources of humanity: “The sea, which many peoples embrace with its open ports, reminds us that the sources of living together lie in mutual acceptance.” The Pope recalls the many victims of ‘our sea’ and those who, having arrived across the sea, find hostility. “They are our sisters and brothers.” Among the stops, the island of Lesbos, already a destination for visits in 2016, “in the belief that the sources of common life will only flourish again in fraternity and integration: together”.
“It will be a journey where we will touch wounds”, the Holy Father said while he was still in flight, recalling the sufferings of migrants, the divisions, and the still tiring path of dialogue due to the coexistence of multiple cultures and religions.
Upon arrival in Cyprus on 2 December, in the first meeting with Priests, Men and Women Religious, Deacons, Catechists, Associations, and Ecclesial Movements of Cyprus at the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in Nicosia, the Holy Father reiterated the importance of fraternity, to cultivate the dream of unity together:
“We need a fraternal Church that is an instrument of fraternity for the world. (…) We are brothers and sisters, loved by one Father. You are immersed in the Mediterranean, a sea of different stories, a sea that has rocked many civilizations, a sea from which persons, peoples, and cultures from all over the world still disembark. With your fraternity you can remind everyone, the whole of Europe, that to build a future worthy of human beings, it is necessary to work together, overcome divisions, break down walls, and cultivate the dream of unity. We need to welcome and integrate, to walk together, to be all brothers and sisters!”.
The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians accompanies with prayer the journey of Pope Francis, a pilgrim to the roots of Christianity and an ambassador of hope and peace.