Despite a few stumbles, Pope Francis concludes his tour of Greece and Cyprus


Pope Francis ended his 6-day trip to Cyprus and Greece on Monday by meeting with Greece’s young people, before he was sent off with an official departure from Athens airport.

In the final event of his trip, Francis met with students at a Catholic school in Athens, where he encouraged them to follow their dreams and not be tempted by the consumerist “sirens” of today that promise easy pleasures.

“Today’s sirens want to charm you with seductive and insistent messages that focus on easy gains, the false needs of consumerism, the cult of physical wellness, of entertainment at all costs,” he said.

READ MORE: Pope Francis shines spotlight on migrant crisis during visits to Greece and Cyprus.

“All these are like fireworks: they flare up for a moment, but then turn to smoke in the air.”

Later, on arrival at Athens airport, Pope Francis was farewelled by Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias, before he was seen walking towards the papal plane in high winds.

Francis briefly struggled to keep his balance on the steps while boarding the plane bound for Rome when caught by a gust of wind, and was helped on board by an aide.

READ MORE: Pope Francis to transfer migrants to Italy from Cyprus after visit.

This wasn’t the first ‘stumble’ of Francis’ tour, with the leader heckled by an elderly Greek Orthodox priest as he arrived for a meeting with the leader of Greece’s Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, on Sunday. “Pope, you are a heretic!” the priest shouted three times before police led him away.

Despite this, Francis made the journey from Athens to Rome’s airport in just over two hours, during which time he held his usual in-flight press conference with journalists on board the plane.

Pope Francis greets the journalists onboard the papal plane. Photo: Alessandro Di Meo/Pool photo via AP.

During the press conference, Francis announced his plans for a possible second meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, after their historic 2016 encounter in Cuba became a landmark in mending relations severed by the 1,000-year-old schism that divided Christianity.

When Francis returns to the Vatican, he has some important pre-Christmas events on his agenda, including a scheduled meeting with the members of a French commission that investigated sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church, and his own 85th birthday on December 17.

Source: AP News.




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