The Apostolic Nuncio to Cyprus, Archbishop Antonio Franco, said Pope Benedict XVI is visiting the country as “a missionary following the steps of St. Paul and Barnabas” and will promote "a new effort to bring to a positive conclusion the peace process and reunification of the island.”
In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the nuncio said the situation in the Middle East is of great concern to the Holy Father. “Cyprus represents, in miniature, the problems of the region: the co-existence of different religions, the relationship with Islam and territorial issues.”
From the ecumenical point of view, the nuncio said there is much hope that Pope Benedict’s visit will advance relations with the Orthodox, who are the religious majority on the island. “Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostom II has already expressed his satisfaction more than once,” and “he has repeatedly sought to understand the profound meaning of this trip which, while motivated not only by ecumenical reasons, will certainly bear fruit for the future development of dialogue.”
Archbishop Franco also referred to the enthusiastic expectations of Catholics ready to welcome the Pope: “Let’s be clear, this is a small community” of only 25,000 people from 12 parishes. “I think that thanks to the positive attitude of his Beatitude Chrysostom II, many Orthodox will also be present at the events with the Pope.” The nuncio also underscored that Catholics and Orthodox have been working together to give the Pope “a decent reception.”
“The wait is very lively ... All are hoping that his visit brings an air of peace and a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation,” the nuncio concluded.