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Cypriot Catholics to the Pope: Do not forget the occupied territories in your prayers

05 June 2010 / 16:06:20  GRReporter
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Maria Spassova
exclusive envoy in Nicosia

    For the Catholic school in the suburb of Nicosia Antoupoli June 5, 2010 will remain memorable. Since dawn, police blocked the otherwise calm neighborhood. In the Saturday morning anyway not too many cars are passing around the neighborhood streets. Most people are either drinking coffee or in their yards or doing sports, or going to the local vegetable market. Today, however, were all dressed formally. The local Catholic church is decorated with festive banners. Flags and flowers adorn also the yard of the Catholic school that is situated opposite to it.
    This morning, the deserted Saturday streets of Antoupoli are strangely busy. A big part of the Catholic society of Cyprus, which is between 5 and 6 thousand believers is gathering in the yard of the school to meet Pope Benedict the Sixteenth. Nearly three hours before the officially announced start the school yard is almost full. It is not possible to get a spot in the shade, and under the sun is also busy. Under its burning rays believers of all generations expect to see the Holy Priest. Among those attending there are Catholic who came from Lebanon, the Philippines, Chile. Some hide under umbrellas, others wear sun hats, charity organization distributes free bottles of mineral water.
    Security is visible but not intrusive. Police helicopter which stooges about over the suburb, a sniper on the roof of the school, civilian bodyguards in the audience. Exactly at 10.30 the Supreme cortege arrived, and Pope Benedict Sixteenth appeared on the official forum. "Long live the Pope!", chanted believers and clapped. On behalf of the attending the first to welcome the guest was the Catholic Archbishop of Cyprus Yusuf Swif. "Help us to reclaim the villages that remained under Turkish occupation! Remember Cyprus in your prayers," he urged Benedict Sixteenth.
    In response the holy priest mentioned each one of the names of the Catholic villages which remained under Turkish occupation and blessed them. "I urge you to create mutual trust between Christians and non-Christians on the island as a basis for lasting peace and harmony among the inhabitants of the island", said in his speech the Pope. In his one hour program the children of the Catholic school showed their talents as singers, music performers, classical ballet dancers, dancers of traditional dances. When leaving the school a man about 50 years old managed to get away from the police cordon and tried to go close to Benedict the Sixteenth but his guards managed to hold him.
    During the day the Vatican delegation visited the presidential palace and spoke to the President of the country Dimitris Hristofiyas, and also the Archbishopric of the Cypriot Orthodox Church, where Benedict the Sixteenth was accepted by the Archbishop of the island Chrisostomos.
    The visit of the delegation from the Vatican is a major news for the media in Cyprus. Local TV stations often interrupt their programming to broadcast directly the meetings of the holy father. Polling of the public opinion register concern among the citizens that the visit of the Pope could cause schism in the church, where many Orthodox priests openly express their disapproval of it. On the other hand, however, the people believe that the visit will show the modern face of Cyprus which is opened to new cultures and religions. The respondents who believe that the Pope would use his influence to support the reunification of the island are not few.

Tags: Pope Benedict the Sixteenth visit Cyprus
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