Pope to Cyprus: Support Mideast Christians

Visits Orthodox Archbishopric of Nicosia

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NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 5, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI underlined the importance of supporting Christians in the Middle East today during a meeting with the Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II of New Justiniana and All Cyprus.

The Pope is in Cyprus until Sunday, when he will deliver the «instrumentum laboris» (working document) for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in Rome in October.

Upon visiting the Orthodox archbishopric of Nicosia, Benedict XVI expressed his gratitude to the Cypriot Orthodox Church, which «through the clarity and openness of her contributions, has always given to the work of the dialogue.»

Since the 2006 election of Chrysostomos II, the Church has become a leader in ecumenical efforts, as well as a promoter of interreligious dialogue with Islam, due to Turkish presence on the divided island.

«May the Holy Spirit guide and confirm this great ecclesial undertaking,» Benedict XVI added, «which aims at restoring full and visible communion between the Churches of East and West, a communion to be lived in fidelity to the Gospel and the apostolic tradition, esteem for the legitimate traditions of East and West, and openness to the diversity of gifts by which the Spirit builds up the Church in unity, holiness and peace.»

Without specifically mentioning the nation’s ongoing struggle with Turkey over the occupation of the northern section of the island, the Pope expressed hope that the nation «will find the wisdom and strength needed to work together for a just settlement of issues remaining to be resolved, to strive for peace and reconciliation, and to build for future generations a society distinguished by respect for the rights of all, including the inalienable rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.»

Turning his attention to the Holy Land, which he noted has traditionally included Cyprus, the Pontiff said «the situation of continuing conflict in the Middle East must be a source of concern to all Christ’s followers.»

«No one can remain indifferent,» he continued, «to the need to support in every way possible the Christians of that troubled region, so that its ancient Churches can live in peace and flourish. The Christian communities of Cyprus can find a most fruitful area for ecumenical cooperation in praying and working together for peace, reconciliation and stability in the lands blessed by the earthly presence of the Prince of Peace.»

Archbishop Chrysostomos II noted in his address to the Pope that «despite the small numbers of its flock, the Church of Cyprus holds an eminent position in Orthodoxy and enjoys fraternal relations with all the Churches.»

«Indeed,» he added, «as we enter the 21st century, which is the century of dialogue, approach and mutual understanding, we are determined to continue this course, in the belief that this is the will of the All-Merciful Lord.»

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Benedict XVI’s address: www.zenit.org/article-29486?l=english

Chrysostomos II’s address: www.zenit.org/article-29487?l=english

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