Holy Father Pope Francis sent a message to a June 5-8 international symposium entitled, “Toward a Greener Attica: Preserving the Planet and Protecting its People,” in Athens, Greece, sponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. In his message addressed to the symposium participants and host, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, His Holiness Pope Francis recalled his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos on April 16, 2016, during which he together with Patriarch Bartholomew and Orthodox Archbishop Hieronymus II of Athens, expressed their concern and closeness to migrants and refugees stranded there, pending processing of their application for asylum.

As reported by Vatican news, the Pontiff wrote referring to desperate migrants and refugees who perished on in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe that “While enchanted by the scenery of the blue sky and the sea, I was struck by the thought that such a beautiful sea had become a tomb for men, women and children who for the most past sought to escape tried to escape the inhuman conditions of their lands.” The Holy Father noted that it is not just the homes of vulnerable people around the world that are crumbling, as can be seen in the growing exodus of climate migrants and environmental refugees,” but as he pointed out in his environmental Encyclical “Laudato Si”, they are also condemning future generations to live in a common home that is reduced to ruins.”

The Pontiff concluded his message hoping that Catholics, Orthodox, other Christian communities along with people of good will, may actively work together in local contexts for the care of creation and for a sustainable and integral development.”