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Lesbos: ‘It Was Spontaneous Decision of Pope,’ Says Vatican’s Permanent Observer to UN

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic Comments on Imminent Pastoral Visit

The Pope’s decision to visit the Greek island of Lesbos arose “spontaneously” and also had a “positive reception also on the part of the Orthodox Church,” Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, told Vatican Radio.

The Holy Father shared with Archbishop Jurkovic “some of his concerns that are tied to the world of the United Nations.” According to the prelate, the “Pope’s first impression” was the “terrible surprise” of “such a close war,” hence came the Pontiff’s decision to go in person to the Greek Island.

Francis then mentioned to the Permanent Observer his surprise over the “dynamics in the development of the world economy, which do not produce work,” by which goods and even great wealth is produced, but so many people remain without work.

The migration crisis that has culminated with the possible closure of the Brenner Pass by Austria, the Archbishop stressed, is a sign of a Europe in a state of “cultural shock.”

“In the face of a suffering humanity,” the Vatican official underscored, “an organized and coordinated response is needed.”

“We must react and help to react, so as not to create these paradigms that will lead to much bad publicity in the future,” he said.

“We have no reason to be ashamed of what the Church has done today,” he stressed, explaining, “I think we will be proud to have reacted in such a categorical way. Nothing else could be expected from the Church.”

Speaking on religious freedom, Archbishop Jurkovic said this is “a fundamental principle of the life of society” and “one must commit oneself to demonstrate it to others.”

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