Pope Francis released a video message on November 27 ahead of his visit to Greece and Cyprus on December 2-6, it was reported on Wednesday.
“I am preparing to come as a pilgrim to your magnificent lands, blessed by history, culture and the Gospel,” the pope said in his message.
“I come with joy, precisely in the name of the Gospel, in the footsteps of the first great missionaries, especially the Apostles Paul and Barnabas,” he added. “ It is good to return to the origins and it is important for the Church to rediscover the joy of the Gospel.”
In Athens on December 4, Francis will meet Greece’s political leaders, Catholic clergy, a group of Jesuits, and His Beatitude Hieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens & All Greece and Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece.
On December 5, the Pope will fly to the island of Lesvos, where he will visit refugees at a reception and identification facility in Mytilini.
His trip will conclude with a gathering of young Catholics, before flying back to Rome on December 6.
The visit of Pope Francis will boost relations between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church, as well as relations between the two countries, Greece and the Vatican, said on Wednesday Theodoros Kontidis, Member of the Holy Synod of the Catholic Hierarchy of Greece.