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Pope Benedict XVI Follows in the Steps of Saint Paul in Cyprus

04 June 2010 / 13:06:04  GRReporter
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Today Pope Benedict XVI pays his first visit to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Orthodox Cyprus. The Holy Father is accompanied by four cardinals and a delegation of 37 superior officials of the State of Vatican City. The important visitors will be met by the President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and his wife Elsie. Pope Benedict XVI will say a prayer in the ancient church Agia Kyriaki in Paphos – the same church that Saint Paul attended in 45 A.C.

The three-day schedule of the Pope includes visits of the Presidency and the Archbishopric of Cyprus, the catholic school in Nicosia and meeting with the pupils while in Sunday morning, on Elefteria stadium, Benedict XVI will say holly mass for the faithful.

The Pope’s visit caused serious discontent among the Orthodox priests on the Mediterranean island. Although his invitation was officially sent by the archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos and by the president Demetris Christofias, several priests appealed the Pope to cancel his visit. In the lead is the bishop of Limasol Atanasios who claimed with Chrysostomos for the Archbishopric of Cyprus in 2006 but remained second. According to the rebelling priests the Pope’s visit will have negative impact on the political situation in the separated island.

Archbishop Chrysostomos, on his side, is trying to diminish the discontent inside the church, reminding that more of the 17 bishops – members of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox church of Cyprus – have voted for the Pope’s visit. “Benedict XVI goes on a religious pilgrim following in the steps of Saint Paul”, states father Fernando Lombardi – director of the press office of the Vatican. The Pope’s schedule does not include contacts with the Turkish Cypriots nor visits to Northern Cyprus.

The visit of the Holy Father to Cyprus drew the attention of the world mass media to the island. Representatives of all big world mass media are accredited in the special press center at Hilton Park Hotel in Nicosia. The police and the army are ready to guarantee the safety of the Vatican’s delegation. During the Pope’s stay in Cyprus the special group for crisis situations at the Cyprus government will operate in the country.

Tags: Benedict XVI Visit Cyprus
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