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Greece: Mgr. Rossolatos (Bishops’ President), “we have become once again a poor, mission Church”. Appeal to the Churches of Europe to show solidarity

“We feel that many bishops in Europe do not know what to do with their secular churches. Indeed, they are empty and they cannot keep them, so they deconsecrate them and sell them. By contrast, we urgently need to build churches or rent premises as places of worship for the pastoral care of migrants, but we have no money. We are a Church left alone. And when we ask for help, we are often told that only social projects can receive funding, that no funding can be granted to the pastoral care and the construction of churches, and that they cannot help us because we are a EU country. This is the appeal made by the Archbishop of Athens and President of the Greek Catholic Bishops, Mgr. Sebastianos Rossolatos, in a letter to SIR news agency today: “We have become once again a poor, mission Church. We show solidarity with our migrant brothers and sisters. But which Church in Europe will show solidarity with us in this situation of extreme poverty affecting our dioceses and the Bishops’ Conference?”. Mgr. Rossolatos recalls that the number of faithful in the Greek Catholic Church has increased by 400% in 30 years. This is not “due to the refugees who have been coming since 2015 – they are almost all Muslims living in dedicated camps – but to the migrants who have been arriving since 1985. Catholics increased from 50,000 – almost all Greek – to over 200,000”. We, he continued, “immediately took responsibility for the pastoral care of these brothers and sisters of ours. But the Bishops’ Conferences of the countries of origin of the majority of these migrants could not send us priests for the pastoral care of the latter, who initially could not speak any Greek. So we in Greece assumed this responsibility, despite we were experiencing a crisis of priestly vocations like in the rest of Europe. Finally, the priests we needed were sent to us, little by little, especially from Poland”.

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