Chios, Greece, Apr 15, 2016 / 14:04 pm
Pope Francis' visit on Saturday with refugees in Greece will show solidarity with those in need and demonstrate a shared Christian commitment to helping them, according to the Vatican spokesman.
Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said the April 16 visit to the island of Lesbos is "fundamentally humanitarian" in purpose. It is "rooted in Pope Francis' concern for migrants, a concern that the Pope shares with the Greek Orthodox Church and with Patriarch Bartholomew."
The Pope will meet with refugees and lunch with them. Then he will sign a joint declaration with two Eastern Orthodox archbishops: Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and Ieronymos II of Athens.
Lesbos is often labeled as the "Lampedusa of Greece." Lampedusa is the Italian island which represent a waypoint for thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing Africa and aiming for Europe. Pope Francis visited that small island in his first trip as Roman Pontiff, in July 2013.
Greece is a route by refugees arriving from Syria, seeking safety in Europe.
Just as Lampedusa is closer to Africa than to Italy, Lesbos is closer to Turkey than to the Greek mainland: it is separated from Turkey by the Mytilini Strait, which at its narrowest is fewer than four miles wide.