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‘Greek brothers and laity feel immense joy’ because of the Pope’s visit



Pope’s visit is an ecumenical message of unity, says Greek Marist

15/04/2016: Greece

A Greek brother believes Francis’ visit to the island of Lesbos on April 16 will be significant to Marist brothers and lay people, as well as to refugees.

“The Marists of Greece, brothers and the laity, are experiencing immense joy at the announcement of the visit because the two heads of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in union with the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Greece (former teacher of our Marist Nea Smyrni school) will gather at a place of martyrdom at a very significant time, since it is the end of Lent for Greeks,” said Brother Mateos Levantinos. 

“Their act is in itself an ecumenical message of unity, able to forget the doctrinal differences,” he told the general house press office on April 13.

He reflected on the impact of the Pope’s visit for refugees, since Lesbos is a primary destination for those fleeing war-torn countries, such as Syria.

“For refugees, the presence of the Pope and the Patriarch is a sign of solidarity to express their support and proximity,” affirmed Br Mateos. 

“For the inhabitants of this island, who have been receiving and welcoming thousands of survivors for more than six months, their presence will be a sign of thanks, as well as of encouragement,” he added. 

Lesbos, which has a population of 90,000 , saw nearly half a million refugees pass through the island into Europe in 2015.

There are currently 12 brothers in Greece, who run two schools with 3500 students and community centers. They also collaborate with Caritas to help refugees.

Three Marist Brothers from Constantinople, now Istanbul, settled in Lesbos in 1901 and started a small French school, but left for Athens a few years later.

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