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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-06-04

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Pope Benedict XVI, who is currently on an official visit to Cyprus, has expressed hope that the desire of Cypriots to live in harmony with their neighbours would inspire them patiently to resolve the remaining concerns that they share with the international community for the future of the island.

    Speaking at the welcoming ceremony at Paphos Airport shortly after his arrival, Pope Benedict said ``Cyprus stands at the crossroads of cultures and religions, of histories both proud and ancient but which still retain a strong and visible impact upon the life of your country.``

    ``Having recently acceded to the European Union, the Republic of Cyprus is beginning to witness the benefit of closer economic and political ties with other European states. Membership has already given your country access to markets, technology and know-how,`` he said.

    He added that ``it is greatly to be hoped that membership will lead to prosperity at home and that other Europeans in their turn will be enriched by your spiritual and cultural heritage which reflects your historical role, standing between Europe, Asia and Africa.``

    ``May the love of your homeland and of your families and the desire to live in harmony with your neighbours under the compassionate protection of almighty God, inspire you patiently to resolve the remaining concerns that you share with the international community for the future of your island,`` the Pontiff said.

    Pope Benedict added that, ``following in the footsteps of our common fathers in the faith, Saints Paul and Barnabas, I have come among you as a pilgrim and the servant of the servants of God.``

    ``Since the Apostles brought the Christian message to these shores, Cyprus has been blessed by a resilient Christian heritage,`` he said.

    The Pope noted that he looked forward to his meeting with President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, as well as Archbishop Chrysostomos II and other Cypriot religious leaders.

    ``I hope to strengthen our common bonds and to reiterate the need to build up mutual trust and lasting friendship between all those who worship the one God,`` he added.

    Pope Benedict added that, ``as the Successor of Peter, I come in a special way to greet the Catholics of Cyprus, to confirm them in the faith and to encourage them to be both exemplary Christians and exemplary citizens, and to play a full role in society, to the benefit of both Church and state.``

    ``During my stay with you, I will also consign the Instrumentum Laboris, a working document in view of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops to be held later this year in Rome,`` he said, adding that ``the Assembly will examine many aspects of the Churchs presence in the region and the challenges that Catholics face, sometimes in trying circumstances, in living out their communion within the Catholic Church and offering their witness in the service of society and the world.``

    The Pontiff pointed out that ``Cyprus is thus an appropriate place in which to launch our Churchs reflection on the place of the centuries-old Catholic community in the Middle East, our solidarity with all the Christians of the region and our conviction that they have an irreplaceable role to play in peace and reconciliation among its peoples.``

    ÉIn addition, Pope Benedict stressed the contribution of the Church in Cyprus to the process of reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

    The path leading to the goal of full communion will certainly not be without its difficulties, yet the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus are committed to advancing in the way of dialogue and fraternal cooperation, the Pope said in his speech at Aghia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa Church in Paphos where he went after his arrival in Cyprus.

    The Pope began his speech saluting people in Greek. ``It is truly an extraordinary grace for us to gather together in prayer in this Church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa,`` he said.

    He noted that ``set apart by the Holy Spirit, Paul, accompanied by Barnabas, a native of Cyprus, and Mark, the future evangelist, first came to Salamis, where they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues. Traversing the island, they reached Paphos where, close to this very place, they preached in the presence of the Roman pro-consul Sergius Paulus. Thus it was from this place that the Gospel message began to spread throughout the Empire, and the Church, grounded in the apostolic preaching, was able to take root throughout the then-known world, he added.

    He stressed that ``the Church in Cyprus can rightly be proud of her direct links to the preaching of Paul, Barnabas and Mark, and her communion in the apostolic faith, a communion which links her to all those Churches who preserve that same rule of faith.``

    ``This is the communion, real yet imperfect, which already unites us, and which impels us to overcome our divisions and to strive for the restoration of that full visible unity which is the Lords will for all his followers. For, in Pauls words, `there is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism```, the Pope said.

    He noted that ``the Churchs communion in the apostolic faith is both a gift and a summons to mission. In the passage from Acts which we have heard, we see an image of the Churchs unity in prayer, and her openness to the promptings of the Spirit of mission. Like Paul and Barnabas, every Christian, by baptism, is set apart to bear prophetic witness to the Risen Lord and to his Gospel of reconciliation, mercy and peace,`` he said.

    He added that in this context, the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, due to meet in Rome next October, will reflect on the vital role of Christians in the region, encourage them in their witness to the Gospel, and help foster greater dialogue and cooperation between Christians throughout the region.

    Significantly, the labours of the Synod will be enriched by the presence of fraternal delegates from other Churches and Christian communities in the region, as a sign of our common commitment to the service of Gods word and our openness to the power of his reconciling grace, the Pope said.

    He noted that the unity of all Christs disciples is a gift to be implored from the Father in the hope that it will strengthen the witness to the Gospel in todays world.

    The Lord prayed for the holiness and unity of his disciples precisely so that the world might believe (cf. Jn 17:21). Just a hundred years ago, at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, the acute awareness that divisions between Christians were an obstacle to the spread of the Gospel gave birth to the modern ecumenical movement. Today we can be grateful to the Lord, who through his Spirit has led us, especially in these last decades, to rediscover the rich apostolic heritage shared by East and West, and in patient and sincere dialogue to find ways of drawing closer to one another, overcoming past controversies, and looking to a better future, the Pope said.

    ``May the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and strengthen our resolve, so that together we can bring the message of salvation to the men and women of our time, who thirst for the truth that brings authentic freedom and salvation (cf. Jn 8:32), the truth whose name is Jesus Christ!,`` the Pope added, noting that ``sanctity is the sign of the fullness of Christian life, a profound inner docility to the Holy Spirit who calls us to constant conversion and renewal as we strive to be ever more conformed to Christ our Saviour.``

    He said that ``conversion and holiness are also the privileged means by which we open our minds and hearts to the Lords will for the unity of his Church. As we give thanks for this meeting and for the fraternal affection which unites us, let ask Saints Barnabas and Epiphanius, Saints Peter and Paul, and all Gods holy ones, to bless our communities, to preserve us in the faith of the Apostles, and to guide our steps along the way of unity, charity and peace.``


    Cyprus is free of nationalist prejudices and its struggle is a struggle for mankind, irrespective of language, religion and cultural identity, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias said on Friday, in his address at the welcoming reception of the Pope Benedict XVI at Paphos Airport.

    Welcoming the Pope to Cyprus, Christofias said ``it is a great honour for us that His Holiness the Pope is visiting our island for the first time in our modern history. It is natural for You, as a profound scholar of the Church Fathers and theology, to manifest your sensitivity by visiting Paphos, in the footsteps of Apostle Paul, who during the first apostolic tour on his first stop to Europe, and accompanied by the Apostle Barnabas, brought Christianity to Cyprus,`` he added.

    He stressed that the Pope`s presence to Cyprus ``conveys a strong message of peace over hatred and war. We share with You the same vision for peace and social justice. Our fight against poverty, exclusion, injustice and hunger, which unfortunately still plague much of our planet, is a common one,`` the President said. ``Cyprus is in need of Your words of peace, given the difficult situation the island is facing in its occupied area. Allow me to say that Cyprus is in need of Your prayers and Your contribution in order to quickly regain its unity and freedom. We are thus grateful for the days You will be among us. Your presence in our country undoubtedly constitutes a historical occasion,`` the President underlined.

    He noted that ``Cyprus is an apostolic land with Christian roots dating back two millennia. Unfortunately, much of the intellectual and cultural heritage of Cyprus, including the tomb and the Stavropegic Monastery of St. Barnabas, as well as about 500 other religious monuments, are still under occupation by the Turkish army. Particularly worrying is the fact that for more than 35 years our cultural and religious heritage in the occupied area has been looted and destroyed systematically, constituting a loss for humanity as a whole.``


    Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II, addressing Pope Benedict XVI shortly after his arrival in Paphos, asked for the Pontiff`s support in the struggle of the people of Cyprus. ``In this struggle of ours, Your Holiness, which the Cypriot people are waging with the guidance of their leaders, we would greatly appreciate your active support. We look forward to your help in order to ensure protection and respect for our sacred monuments and our cultural heritage, in order that the diachronic values of our Christian spirit might prevail. These values are currently being brutally violated by Turkey, a country desirous of joining the EU,`` he pointed out.

    Presenting the historical events of the arrival in Cyprus of Saints Barnabas and Paul, and the first teachings of Christianity on the island, the Archbishop said that ``it was in this town that the first miracle of the Apostles was performed, as recorded in the New Testament.``

    ``It was here that the first European citizen was baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity. It was here that the first official citadel of idolatry fell and in its place the glory of the Cross was raised in all its splendour, and would gradually spread to cover the whole of Europe and shape its historical future,`` he added. The Archbishop said that ``here in Paphos, after the wondrous events that took place, Paul became established as the Apostle to the Nations, and went on to sow the seeds of the bread of life in your own cathedra and throughout the whole of Europe.``


    The UN Secretary General`s Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer pointed out on Friday that the future of Cyprus country is in the hands of the Cypriots, adding that talks for a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus problem were continuing on the agreed UN basis.

    Reading out a statement on which the aides of the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have agreed on, Downer said ``the talks are continuing on the agreed UN basis`` and that ``all chapters are being negotiated with the aim of increasing the points of convergence on the understanding that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.``

    He added that he would be in New York next week and will be giving ``an oral presentation to the Security Council, to supplement the report that the Secretary General has tabled of the good offices mission and they will obviously be some discussion in the Security Council. During the course of next week, the representatives Mr. Iacovou and Mr. Ozersay will be meeting. I think their discussion will focus on the property question and no specific date has been set for the next leaders meeting but that could possible be in the following week. So we just have to wait and see. But obviously the process is moving ahead,`` Downer said.

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