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Papal trip to Cyprus will shine spotlight on Middle East
cns ^ | May 31, 2010 | Cindy Wooden

Posted on 05/31/2010 2:02:16 PM PDT by NYer

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(CNS/Emily Thompson)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Just 13 months after he visited the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI will give Christians in the Middle East his full attention again as he visits Cyprus June 4-6.

Christians on the small island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea share a biblical heritage with Middle Eastern Christians and face some of the same challenges in finding ways to live in peace and security in a land shared with people from other ethnic and religious groups.

Since 1974, Cyprus, which is about half the size of Connecticut, has been divided. U.N. peacekeepers patrol a buffer zone between the area controlled by the government of Cyprus and about one-third of the island, which is controlled by Turkish Cypriots.

Negotiations to end the island's division are continuing -- President Demetris Christofias and the recently elected Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu met for the first time May 26 -- but relations are peaceful enough that tourists and residents cross the buffer zone with relative ease.

A key sticking point in the negotiations is how to convincingly guarantee the full rights of the Turkish Cypriot minority, a predominantly Muslim community, on an island whose population is predominantly Orthodox Christian.

The question of minority rights, particularly when a large segment of the minority has a different religious tradition, is a concern in many parts of the Middle East. The region's Catholics also are challenged to improve relations with their Orthodox neighbors and to promote dialogue with fellow citizens who are Muslims.

During the pope's visit to Cyprus, he will meet with Catholic patriarchs and bishops from throughout the region and give them the working document for the special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East at the Vatican in October.

The theme of the synod is: "Communion and Witness: 'The Community of Believers Was of One Heart and Mind.'"

Pope Benedict and his hosts will have an opportunity not just to preach unity and cooperation, but also to demonstrate it.

The first event after the official government welcoming ceremony is an ecumenical prayer service at an archaeological park believed to be the spot where the apostles Paul and Barnabas preached in Cyprus, as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.

The pope also is scheduled to hold a private meeting and luncheon with Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II, head of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus and a strong supporter of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. The archbishop made an official visit to the Vatican in 2007.

The government of Cyprus estimates the entire island has a population of about 854,000 people; around 76 percent belong to the Greek Cypriot community, which is predominantly Orthodox; about 10 percent are Turkish Cypriots, a predominantly Muslim community; and almost 13 percent are foreigners.

The Vatican estimates there are about 25,000 Catholics in Cyprus. Most belong to the Maronite Church; the Latin-rite Catholic community is composed of a tiny group of Cypriot Catholics and several thousand foreign workers, particularly from the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

The outline for the synod on the Middle East was released in January, setting out topics for the bishops and local Catholics to discuss and questions for them to respond to in preparation for the synod. Their input helped shape the document the pope was to present in Cyprus.

The synod's outline said the main goals for the October assembly were "to confirm and strengthen Christians in their identity through the word of God and the sacraments, and to deepen ecclesial communion among the particular churches."

A renewal of faith and improved ecumenical collaboration will also help Christians better understand their role in Muslim societies and how they can aid their nations by being authentic witnesses of Christ, the outline said.

Another key concern for the church, expected to be discussed at the synod, is that Christians are emigrating from many areas of the Middle East, including the Holy Land, seeking greater opportunities for their families and more freedom in countries without all the political tensions found in the Middle East.

Looking at the situation in Cyprus, Pope Benedict's hosts from both the government and the Christian community are likely to repeat their request that he speak out in defense of Christian churches and monuments in areas controlled by the Turkish Cypriots.

George F. Poulides, ambassador of Cyprus to the Vatican, told Catholic News Service that hundreds of Christian churches in the North have been turned into hotels or restaurants or destroyed, "some 30,000 icons have been stolen and two cemeteries have been destroyed."

On the other hand, he said, the government of Cyprus has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars maintaining mosques in the southern part of the island.

Thousands of Turkish Cypriots cross the buffer zone each day to work and thousands of Muslims from the Arab world come to the island to live and work, Poulides said, which proves that "there is no religious problem in Cyprus."

"We have always been the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East, between Christianity and the Arab world," he said.

"We hope the prayers and the good wishes of the Holy Father will help us reunite our island," Poulides said.

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Ministry/Outreach
KEYWORDS: catholic; cyprus; enosis; greece; israel; turkey

1 posted on 05/31/2010 2:02:16 PM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...


Friday, June 4


Departure from Rome

Arrival at Paphos Airport and welcome ceremony

The Holy Father will be greeted by the President of Cyprus, Mr Demetris Christofias and his wife, the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus with his Entourage, Catholic Patriarchs and bishops and others.


Arrival at the Orthodox Church of Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa in Pafos

The church, which is also open to worship for Catholics and Anglicans, faces the archaeological site of the paleo-christian basilica where the legendary "column of St. Paul", object of an ancient popular devotion, is kept. The Holy Father will enter the church for a short prayer.



Outside the church of Agia Kyriaki, a podium will be set for the celebration. At the beginning of the ecumenical celebration, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II addresses a greeting to the Holy Father.

16:30 Transfer to Nicosia

Arrival at the Apostolic Nunciature

This is the residence of the Holy Father located at the compound of the Franciscan friary of Holy Cross, belonging to the Custody of the Holy Land, with adjacent the church of the same name, which is the parish of the Catholic Latin Community of Cyprus. The church and the Franciscan friary are within the United Nations buffer zone, near the "Paphos Gate".

Saturday, June 5


Courtesy visit to the President of the republic

The President and his wife await the Holy Father outside the palace, near the statue of Archbishop Makarios III, the first president of the Republic. The Holy Father places a wreath of flowers at the foot of the monument. The President accompanies the Holy Father inside the palace and presents the respective delegations in the Ceremonial Hall. At the end the Holy Father and the President go to the large Palace garden where the Civil Authorities and the Diplomatic Corps are gathered.


Meeting with the Civil Authorities and the Diplomatic Corps


Transfer to the St. Maronas, elementary school in Anthoupolis


Meeting with the Catholic Community of Cyprus

The Holy Father will be greeted by the Catholic Communities of Cyprus: the Maronite and Latin Communities. Thousands of people are expected to be gathered at the school of St. Maronas and the meeting will take place in the form of the Celebration of the World. A special cultural program, illustrating the history and the heritage of the communities will be presented.


Transfer to the Orthodox Archbishopric


Courtesy visit to H.B. Chrysostomos, Archbishop of Cyprus

The Archbishop greets the Holy Father at the entrance of the building and accompanies Him to visit the monument of Archbishop Makarios, the Cathedral and the museum of icons.


Lunch with H.B. Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Cyprus

And with respective delegations


Transfer to the Apostolic Nunciature (the residence)



At the church of the Holy Cross at the compound of the Franciscan convent of Holy Cross, near the ‘’Paphos Gate’’, with Priests, Religious, Nuns, Deacons, catechists and Catholic Ecclesial Movements of Cyprus.

Sunday, June 6



At the Eleftheria Sports Palace in Makedonitissa, Nicosia

For the occasion of the publication of the ‘’Instrumentum Laboris’’ of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. The presence of the Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East, with representatives of their respective communities is scheduled. After the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father gives a copy of the "Intrumentum Laboris" to each member of the Special Council of the Synod. Thousands of faithful are expected to participate at the Palace and special arrangements for giant screen installation is arranged in the outdoor area.


Transfer to the Apostolic Nunciature


Visit to the Maronite Cathedral of Cyprus

The Cathedral of our Lady of Graces, near the ‘’Paphos Gate’’ The Holy Father will enter the cathedral for a short prayer and short greetings. Faithful of the Maronite community of Cyprus will greet him with prayers and hymns by the choir.

17:00 Transfer to the Larnaka International airport

Farewell Ceremony

Farewell by the President of the Republic and farewells of the respective delegations.

20:45 Arrival at Rome

2 posted on 05/31/2010 2:08:31 PM PDT by NYer (Preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed do not light up the world!)
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To: NYer

Last year I met an American archaeologist who was living in the Greek part of Cyprus on Sept. 11, 2001. She was told to leave immediately because of the strong anti-Americanism—it wasn’t safe to stay. I think she has been back to the island since then. If she were ever to visit the Turkish part of Cyprus or Turkey itself, she would never be allowed back in the Greek part of Cyprus.

3 posted on 05/31/2010 2:26:30 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Verginius Rufus

Thank you for the post and ping. Indeed, the visit of the pope to Cyprus is wrought with potential danger. However, as in his trip to Turkey, he will be meeting with government officials in his capacity as a sovereign leader and they will not risk anything happening to Pope Benedict XVI. I am confident that security measures will be in place to protect the pope during his visit.

4 posted on 05/31/2010 3:09:11 PM PDT by NYer (Preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed do not light up the world!)
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To: NYer

Turkey will of course do 110% to protect him (imagine the horror for them if the Pope was harmed in their country!) but they are many crazies down there.

5 posted on 06/01/2010 12:18:11 PM PDT by mainsail that
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