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(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...
(Vatican Radio) Following his arrival on the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Discussed at the meeting was the refugee and migration crisis, in particular the situation on the island. It was stressed "that the refugee crisis is a European and international issue calling for a comprehensive response that respects European and international law."Below is Statement of the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See after the Meeting of His Holiness Pope Francis and the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr Alexis TsiprasDuring the meeting of His Holiness Pope Francis with His Excellency the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. Alexis Tsipras, the main theme of the conversations was the refugee and migration crisis and more in particular the situation on the island of Lesvos.It was underlined that the refugee crisis is a European and international issue calling for a comprehensive response that respects European and international law.Th...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has described his visit to Lesbos as one marked by sadness.To the some 50 journalists and media operators accompanying him on the papal plane on Saturday morning, the Pope pointed out that generally during apostolic visits there is the “joy of encounter”.This visit, he said is different: “we are going to meet the worst humanitarian catastrophe since the second world war”.He said “we will see many people who are suffering, who do not know where to go, who have had to flee”.The Pope also said he will be visiting a cemetery: the sea.To the journalists on board he said: “Many people have drowned. I say this is not to be bitter, but so that your work today may express the feelings with which I am undertaking this journey”.Finally, thanking all for their work, Pope Francis had a special thought and a request for a prayer for the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who today is celebrating his 89th birthday.  
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on a visit to the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, told those gathered, "You are not alone". He also told them not to lose hope adding, "the greatest gift we can offer one another is love: a merciful look, a readiness to listen and understand, a word of encouragement, a prayer." The Pope was accompanied by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymus II. Below please find the English translation of the greeting to refugees at the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos.Greeting of His Holiness Pope FrancisVisit to Moria Refugee Camp, LesvosSaturday, 16 April 2016Dear Friends,I have wanted to be with you today.  I want to tell you that you are not alone.  In these weeks and months, you have endured much suffering in your search for a better life.  Many of you felt forced to flee situations of conflict and persecution for ...
(Vatican Radio)  As is tradition, Pope Francis has sent telegrams to the heads of state of the countries his plane flies over on Saturday as he travels to the Greek island of Lesbos.The telegrams to the European countries the Pope has flown over are presented here in their original languages. ITALYA SUA ECCELLENZAON. SERGIO MATTARELLAPRESIDENTE  DELLA  REPUBBLICA ITALIANAPALAZZO  DEL  QUIRINALE 00187   ROMA NEL LASCIARE IL SUOLO ITALIANO PER RECARMI IN GRECIA A PORTARE CONFORTO A TANTI PROFUGHI, MI E’ PARTICOLARMENTE GRADITO RIVOLGERE A LEI SIGNOR PRESIDENTE IL MIO DEFERENTE SALUTO, CHE ACCOMPAGNO CON PREGHIERA FERVIDA E PENSIERO BENEDICENTE, AFFINCHé IL POPOLO ITALIANO POSSA AFFONTARE CON LUNGIMIRANZA E SOLIDARIETA’ LE SFIDE DEI NOSTRI GIORNI. FRANCISCUS PP. ALBANIAHis Excellency Bujar NishaniPresident of the Republic of AlbaniaTiranë I send cordial greetings to your excellency and your fello...
(Vatican Radio) Following the deal made between the European Union and Turkey which allows for the deportation of forced migrants from the Greek island of Lesbos, Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Michele Telaro, the Field Co-Ordinator of Médecins Sans Frontières in Lesbos.He speaks about the dramatic situation migrants are facing at the moment, and about the conditions in the Morìa detention center where Pope Francis is meeting with men, women and children who have fled violence and are seeking protection.  Listen:  Talking about the status of asylum seekers on the island, Telaro says that Greek authorities are overwhelmed and are trying to process the huge number of claims. Up to 200 refugees are continuing to arrive on the island everyday meaning that it will take weeks to process the claims that have already been filed.  Of the migrants who were sent back to Turkey under the deal with Greece, Telaro said that they will be detained...
(Vatican Radio) A Caritas volunteer says there is great excitement about Pope Francis’ visit to the island and said he hopes the Pope will speak out against the injustice of the deportations of refugees and migrants to Turkey under the deal between the EU and Ankara. British-born Leonard Meachim was interviewed by Susy Hodges just hours before the papal visit to Lesbos was due to start. Listen to the interview with Leonard Meachim, a volunteer for both Caritas and JRS, on the island of Lesbos:  As a member of the small Catholic community on Lesbos, Meachim said there’s great excitement over this papal visit, the first ever to the island, and described the huge interest by the global media who have come to Lesbos to cover this visit by Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. Asked what message he would like to hear from Pope Francis during his 6-hour stay on Lesbos, Meachim sa...
(Vatican Radio) The Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, was in Poland on Friday to mark the 1050th anniversary of the conversion of the nation to Christianity. “The Polish Church is aware of the new waves that unfailingly call us to find proper ways to be the ‘salt and light’ of the earth and the fire that warms the hearts and attracts people to the proclamation of salvation,” said Cardinal Parolin to the Polish bishops, who were gathered in plenary session on Friday morning to celebrate the recurrence.Cardinal Parolin praised the historic faithfulness of the Polish people, saying, “[Your] faithfulness to God, to the Gospel and to the Holy See has garnered the respect and esteem of other nations, and  made the Church in Poland a bulwark of Christian faith and charity and a light in the darkness that has enshrouded Europe so many times.”Also on Friday, Cardinal Parolin met with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo...
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