.- Pope Benedict's 16th international journey will take him to Cyprus on Friday. It is hoped that his visit will bring a “wind of peace” to the nation.
The most anticipated event of the three-day tour is Sunday Mass on the occasion of the publication of the Instrumentum laboris for next October's Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.
Following his arrival on June 4 to the city of Paphos, there will be an ecumenical celebration at the church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa. After the first day, all events will take place in the capital city of Nicosia.
Saturday, June 5, the busiest day of the trip, will see the Pope take part a variety of events: a meeting with the president, civil authorities and diplomats, followed by an encounter with the Cypriot Catholic community and then a courtesy visit to His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus. The day's program ends with the celebration of Mass with priests, religious, deacons, catechists and representatives of Cyprian ecclesial movements.
The schedule for the final day of the journey, June 6, includes the Holy Mass on the occasion of the working document's publication followed by the Angelus. Papal nuncio to Cyprus, Archbishop Antonio Franco, told L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) on Wednesday that 20,000 people are expected to be on hand for the Eucharistic Celebration, a striking figure considering there are only 25,000 registered Catholics on the island.
That afternoon, the Holy Father will visit the Maronite Church of Cyprus before his departure.
Archbishop Franco, who is also nuncio to Israel and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, explained to LOR that the government and the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are “working full time for a dignified welcome” for the Pope on the island.
He described a “lively” expectation for the encounter on the part of Cypriots and said that “everyone hopes that his visit brings a wind of peace and a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.”