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Pope Agenda in Cyprus: For The First Time Benedict XVI Visits a Country of Mostly Orthodox

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
3 Jun 2010

Benedict XVI will become the first pope to visit Cyprus. It will also be the first time he visits a country that is mostly orthodox, 78 percent of the population. Catholics make up 3.15 percent, among the Latin and Maronites.

Mons. Georgios Armand Houry
"The Orthodox Church, with its archbishop and president of the country, have decided to invite the pope. It's true that there are two Greek Orthodox metropolitans who do not accept his visit. But the situation is under the archbishop's control."

The pope travels to a politically unstable Cyprus which is divided into a Greek part and the other Turkish, which corresponds to 37 percent of the territory.

In 1974 Turkey invaded this territory, of which  179,000 people escaped while more than 500 churches, chapels and Catholic monasteries were destroyed and occupied.

The pope will stay in a Franciscan convent located at the border between the two parts, in an area controlled by the United Nations.

Benedict XVI will arrive in Paphos, where he will bless an olive tree as a symbol of peace. His first important act will be an ecumenical celebration.

Mons. Georgios Armand Houry
"The pope, as a pilgrim, will make his trip to Paphos, where the column is, the one where Saint Paul made his first miracle when he found the Roman governor and baptized him."

On Saturday he will preside over a gathering in Nicosia with the island's Catholics and meet with the Orthodox archbishop, Chrysostomos II.

One of the most anticipated moments of the trip will be the mass on Sunday, where Benedict XVI will present the Instrumentum Laboris, the document that will guide discussions at the next Synod on Christians in the Middle East.