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(Vatican Radio) A senior official of Caritas Internationalis said the Pope’s 6-hour visit to the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday brought to the fore the urgency of tackling the refugee crisis which is a huge moral issue for both the European Union and the world.  Patrick Nicholson, Head of Communications at Caritas Internationalis, said the papal trip and its message also underlined that we can no longer treat people like commodities to be traded between countries. Nicholson who was in Lesbos during the Pope’s visit spoke to Susy Hodges.Listen to the interview with Patrick Nicholson of Caritas Internationalis:  “Shames us all”Nicholson said the papal trip shone the spotlight on the refugee crisis and underlined that the international community really needs to address this issue.  He said Pope Francis’ trip to Lesbos shone the spotlight on some of the more troubling aspects of the recent deal between the EU and Turkey that calls for ...
(Vatican Radio) Vatican Weekend for April 16, 2016 offers a special focus on the visit of Pope Francis to Lesbos on Saturday. This is followed by a report on his weekly general audience with pilgrims from across the world and a feature centred around  Pius XII and Shakespeare.A programme presented and produced by Veroncia Scarisbrick:  
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis returned to Rome on Saturday with 12 Syrian refugees whom he took back with him on the plane at the end of his 6-hour visit to Lesbos. Upon arrival, he made his customary visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, praying for a short while before the Marian icon Salus populi Romani.The Greek island of Lesbos is on the frontline in receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing conflict and poverty and during his visit the Pope implored Europe to treat refugees with dignity.The Pope was accompanied on his trip to Lesbos by the Orthodox leader, the Ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Ieronymos II. During their visit, the three spiritual leaders signed a joint declaration calling on the international community to make the protection of human lives a priority and to extend temporary asylum to those in need. Earlier they toured the Moria refugee camp where many ...
(Vatican Radio)  As per tradition, Pope Francis sent telegrams to the heads of state of the countries his plane flew over on Saturday during his return trip to Rome from the Greek island of Lesbos.The telegrams to the European countries the Pope has flown over are presented here in their original languages:GreeceHIS EXCELLENCY PROKOPIS PAVLOPOULOSPRESIDENT OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLICATHENSAS I DEPART GREECE I WISH TO RENEW MY GRATITUDE TO YOUR EXCELLENCY AND THE GOVERNMENT FOR YOUR GENEROUS ASSISTANCE DURING MY VISIT.  WITH THE ASSURANCE OF MY PRAYERS, I INVOKE UPON THE NATION AND ALL ITS PEOPLE ALMIGHTY GOD’S BLESSINGS OF HARMONY AND PROSPERITY.FRANCISCUS PP.AlbaniaHis Excellency Bujar NishaniPresident of the Republic of AlbaniaTiranëI RENEW MY CORDIAL GREETINGS TO YOUR EXCELLENCY AS I FLY OVER THE COUNTRY ON MY WAY FROM GREECE TO THE VATICAN.  WITH THE ASSURANCE OF MY CONTINUED PRAYERS FOR ALL THE ALBANIAN PEOPLE, I INVOKE THE DIVINE BLESSINGS OF PEAC...
(Vatican Radio) “You are not alone”. That was Pope Francis’ message to migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos where up to half a million asylum seekers have arrived over the past year and a half.His brief visit to the island, alongside Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Orthodox Archbishop Hieronymus of Athens, aimed to draw international attention to the plight of all those fleeing across the Mediterranean sea to escape conflict and persecution in their home countries.Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:  This was Pope Francis’ 13th journey outside Italy, but as he told journalists on the short plane trip over from Rome to Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos, this visit was different. It was a visit, he said, marked by sadness for the suffering of so many people caught up in the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.As he did during his first pastoral journey to the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013, the Pope was able to ...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday offered a concrete and powerful gesture of solidarity to refugees and prayers to the victims of migration before wrapping up his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.The decision to offer shelter and care to refugee families who travelled back to Rome with him aboard the papal plane was announced at the end of an intense visit to Lesbos which aimed to show support and solidarity to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are currently facing detention, razor fences, closed borders and rejection in Europe as they flee violence and persecution.A 6-hour visit, marked by many poignant and moving moments, included  prayers and a tribute to those who have drowned during a ceremony at the Lesbos port of Mytilene.According to the International Organization for Migration, 366 people have died crossing the water from Turkey to Greece since the beginning of this year alone. There are many children and infants amongst the victims.Listen to the re...
(Vatican Radio) Pope had lunch on Saturday with a group of 8 refugees at a container inside the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.The Pope is being accompanied on his visit to Lesbos by the Orthodox leader, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Costantinople,  Bartholomew I and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Ieronymos II and the three spiritual leaders toured the Moria camp and met refugees and migrants being held inside it before sitting down to their lunch. The meal was a simple one on account of it still being the Lenten season for the Orthodox Church.  
(Vatican Radio) Continuing his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday, Pope Francis expressed his admiration for the Greek people who, despite their own great difficulties, have "kept open their hearts and their doors."  He was addressing Civil Authorities and the Catholic community on the island where he also  renewed his "heartfelt plea for responsibility and solidarity in the face of this tragic situation." Address of His Holiness Pope Francisto Civil Authorities and the People of LesvosSaturday, 16 April 2016Below find the English translation of the Pope's address to Civil Authorities Distinguished Authorities,Dear Brothers and Sisters,I have wanted to visit Lesvos ever since migrants arrived here seeking peace and dignity.  Today I give thanks to God who has granted me this wish.  I express my appreciation to President Pavlopoulos for inviting me, together with Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ierony...
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Saturday made an emotional visit  to the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos where he met and chatted to its inmates, some of whom who broke down in tears when they met him. The Pope was accompanied on his tour by the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Costantinople, Bartholomew I and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Ieronymos II. The Pope, Patriarch and Archbishop shook hands and chatted briefly with some of the refugees inside the camp.  More than 3,000 refugees and migrants are being held at Moria that has effectively being transformed into a de facto detention centre after the recent deal signed between the EU and Turkey. Under the terms of this deal, refugees and migrants whose asylum claims are refused or who do not make a claim, are to be deported back to Turkey.There were a number of poignant moments during the visit when several refugees and migrants broke ...
(Vatican Radio) A second, more powerful earthquake has struck Japan. At least 29 people are reported dead. As Alastair Wanklyn reports from Tokyo, the damage is widespread.Listen:  The magnitude-7 quake struck in the early hours on Saturday. Houses fell, fires broke out and landslides ripped away roads. This, in Japan's southern island of Kyushu.   Japan's prime minister ordered stepped-up help for survivors, and greater efforts to inform residents about what they should do. An earlier quake on Thursday left perhaps thousands of people homeless. Now, it's thought that buildings across a wider area may be uninhabitable.In many cases, the ground floor of multistorey buildings collapsed but the rest of the structure was left intact.Residents gathered out of doors, on sports fields and in school buildings, which are built to earthquake-resitant standards.The Japanese Red Cross helped to treat injuries. Authorities warned af...
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