Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou welcomed Pope Francis to the temporary Reception and Identification Center at Kara Tepe (Mavrovouni) near Mytilini early on Sunday.
The leader of the Catholic Church and the Vatican state, who is on a three-day visit to Greece concluding on Monday, paid his second visit to the island after 2016 to speak with migrants.
President Sakellaropoulou called the pope “a protector of the poor and the persecuted, sharer of their pain and strong supporter of their rights,” adding that his visit on the island “is an expression of your most direct and fervent support of those without a country, the persecuted ones and those stripped of dreams and expectations.” She said that “the strong message of hope and responsibility that you convey travels from Lesvos to the international community.”
Sakellaropoulou spoke of improvements of the conditions since the pope first visited the island together with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbiship Hieronymos of Athens and All Greece, and spoke of the assistance and welcoming of migrants by the residents of Lesvos, “who showed understanding and solidarity, responding to their moral obligations under difficulties, being on the front lines” of the massive flows of migrants that.
“All these years, Greece shouldered a disproportionate burden in the migration and refugee crisis,” she noted, “which is trying the entire Mediterranean, the sea that unites us. But its management goes beyond national borders and constitutes a shared responsibility of Europe. It is our duty, in repect of international law regulations and fundamental rights, not to allow the inhuman use of migrants and refugees as political tools.”