Pope brings message of peace to Cyprus, Middle East
- Escrito por Cindy Wooden / Catholic News Service
The pope began his June 4-6 visit to Cyprus, in the far eastern Mediterranean Sea, by blessing an olive tree. The trip began one day after the president of the Turkish bishops' conference was killed by his driver, who had been experiencing psychiatric problems.
And even as the pope was flying from Rome, international tensions were simmering over Israel's raid on a flotilla of boats trying to run the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Cyprus itself is not a stranger to tension; the island has been divided between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots since 1974. U.N. peacekeepers patrol a buffer zone between the two sides, and the Vatican nuncio's residence, where the pope was staying, is in the zone.
Arriving at the airport in Paphos, Pope Benedict told President Demetris Christofias and the Cypriot people, "May the love of your homeland and of your families and the desire to live in harmony with your neighbors under the compassionate protection of almighty God inspire you patiently to resolve the remaining concerns that you share with the international community for the future of your island."
Christofias told the pope, "Your presence here conveys a strong message of peace over hatred and war. We share with you the same vision for peace and social justice."