Nicosia, Apr 12 (CNA)
- The visit of Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to Cyprus is a pastoral visit with many dimensions, the Apostolic Nuncio in Cyprus, Antonio Franco stressed in a press conference on Monday, in which the Catholic Church in Cyprus (Maronites and Latins) publicised the schedule of the Pope’s visit to the island.
The visit was officially announced last Saturday in Rome and Nicosia.
Nuncio Franco said that the three days visit of Pope Benedict starts on June 4th in Paphos, on the western coast, where he will have a moment of pilgrimage on the footstep of Saint Paul. On Saturday the Pope will meet with Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II and on Sunday the Pope will present to all prelates of Catholic churches in the Middle East the “Instrumentum Laboris” the document for the Synod of Middle East, in next October, he added.
Nuncio underlined that “it is the first time that a Pope visits the island but the Christian presence in the island is Apostolic, comes from the preaching and the presence of Paul and Barnaba on the island is the characteristic history of the island. It is really for me and for all of us to receive the Holy Father in this pastoral visit here in Cyprus”.
“We must prepare for this visit so it may bring fruits of a spiritual renewal in our communities because the Pope comes as the head of the Catholic churches but also as the spiritual leader to bring and stress the spiritual values to orient our lives, the lives of every Christian, every believer,” he said.
Youssef Soueif, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus, stressed that the visit of Pope Benedict “is a grand and important event in the recent history of Cyprus and is a gesture of love and peace”.
Announcing the schedule of the apostolic trip of the Pope to Cyprus, he said that the head of the Roman Catholic Church arrives at Paphos Airport. A pilgrimage and ecumenical prayer will follow at Column of Saint Paul, at the Church of Saint Kyriaki. On Saturday, June 5th Pope will meet with President of the Cyprus Republic, Demetris Christofias. He will also meet with the Catholic community of Cyprus ( Maronites and Latins) at the Elementary School of Saint Maronas in Anthoupolis. He will visit the Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II and in the afternoon he hold Holy Mass at the Holy Cross Latin church where he will meet with the whole of the clergy and laity, who are dedicated to the pastoral service.
On Sunday, the schedule includes Holy Mass at “Eleftheria” Sports Stadium, at the end of which the Pope will present to all prelates of Catholic churches in the Middle East the “Instrumentum Laboris”, the text to prepare the meeting of bishops on the issue of Christians in the Middle East, which will be held in Rome in October. The conclusion of the day and the visit will be with players to the Virgin Mary at the Virgin Mary of Graces Maronite Cathedral, at Paphos Gate.
Soueif said that the visit of the Pope to Cyprus “will be a great opportunity to promote humane and Christian principles and values, based on freedom, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace”. During this pastoral trip, the successor of Saint Peter is making a pilgrimage, following the steps of Saint Paul, he added, saying that the Holy Father in a spirit of brotherly dilection is meeting the Orthodox Church, all the churches and all the people of goodwill.
“In a spiritual disposition, ecclesiastical and cultural, though the joy of resurrected Jesus, we are preparing to welcome Pope Benedict XVI in our country, where his presence among us will be a blessing,” he noted.
The representative of Archbishop of Cyprus, Demosthenis Demosthenous said that the Church of Cyprus expresses joy and pleasure for the apostolic trip of Pope Benedict to the island, a historic visit. “It will mark as we believe the history of Cyprus towards the horizons of peace, symbiosis and the final reconciliation”, he added, noting that Christians will give a global example of peace, solidarity and peace. “Cyprus welcomes joyful Pope Benedict XVI”.
Asked if the Pope will meet with the Turkish Cypriot imam of Turkish occupied occupied Lefke village, as Turkish Cypriot press reports suggest, Nuncio Franco said that for the time being he is not aware of such an issue, but there is still time. “When there is such a question we will deal with it,” he added.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY