Vatican confirms December Pope trip to Cyprus and Greece


  • World
  • Friday, 05 Nov 2021

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis arrives to attend the meeting for the ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome, at the Paul VI Audience Hall, in the Vatican, October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican on Friday officially announced that Pope Francis will visit Cyprus and Greece, including the island of Lesbos that hosts many foreign migrants, on Dec. 2-6, confirming a Reuters report last month.

The announcement of the trip was further confirmation that the 84-year old pope has fully recovered from intestinal surgery in July. It was made as he was paying a visit to thank staff at the hospital where he was operated on.

The Vatican announced the trip but did not issue a full programme.

Francis will stay in the Cypriot capital Nicosia Dec. 2-4, his first visit to the ethnically split Mediterranean island.

Cyprus's internationally recognised government is run by Greek Cypriots, while a breakaway administration in the north is recognised only by Turkey.

Francis will be in Greece Dec. 4-6, most of the time in Athens. A Vatican source told Reuters last month the visit to the Greek island of Lesbos would be on Dec. 5.

Francis visited the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos in 2016 and returned with a dozen Syrian refugees.

Moria camp was destroyed by a fire last year and replaced with another camp called Mavrovouni.

Francis visited the Gemelli hospital earlier on Friday to mark the 60th anniversary of its medical school.

"It is good to kindle our memory with those who loved us, cured us, lifted us up," he said in the homily of an outdoor Mass for several hundred staff, referring to his hospital stay.

Francis was in the Gemelli for 11 days in July during which he underwent surgery to remove part of his colon, which had narrowed. It was the first time he had been hospitalised since his election in 2013.

The medical school said it would mark the visit by sending medicines needed for emergency treatment to Lebanon, Syria and Sudan.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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