A Greek Cypriot leader criticized Turkey for its occupation of northern Cyprus as Pope Benedict XVI began a pilgrimage to the divided island Friday, bringing a message of peace to the region.
Pope Benedict XVI is greeted by Chrysostomos II, archibishop of Cyprus, during their meeting in front of the church of Aghia Kiriaki Chrisopolitissa in Paphos, Cyprus, on Friday. The pontiff is in Cyprus for a three-day visit. (Pier Paolo Cito/Associated Press)
Pope: Bishop’s murder will not hurt dialogue with Islam/which part of “kill the unbelievers” is it that this pope doesn’t understand?
Looks like the Catholic is becoming increasingly irrelevant…..
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Addressing Benedict, the head of Cyprus’s Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II said “Turkey has barbarously invaded and conquered by force of arms 37 per cent of our homeland.”
Chrysostomos said Turkey “continues to carry out its obscure plans, which include the annexation of the land now under military occupation, and then a conquest of the whole of Cyprus.”
His comments came as Benedict began a sensitive three-day day visit to Cyprus, an island divided between ethnic Turks and Greeks and viewed by the Vatican as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East.
Chrysostomos also said the Turks had “ruthlessly sacked” Christian artworks, saying they were seeking to make Greek and Christian culture disappear from the north. He urged the Pope to help ensure protection of the sacred Christian monuments in a struggle against the Turks.
The Pope did not respond to the archbishop’s remarks. Instead, in his comments at an archeological site where St. Paul is said to have preached in the 1st century and to have been whipped by Roman soldiers, Benedict spoke of the co-operation between Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians.
Asked for the Pope’s reaction to the speech, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said Benedict was aware of the archbishop’s views but had not come to Cyprus to take political positions.
The spokesman also said that while there are no plans for Benedict to visit the Turkish-occupied north he may meet with a Muslim delegation from the area before he departs for Rome on Sunday evening.
Earlier, the Pope declined to blame Turkey for the killing of a Catholic bishop in Turkey on the eve of the trip to Cyprus.
In remarks to journalists aboard the plane to Cyprus, Benedict said he was deeply saddened by the killing Thursday of Bishop Luigi Padovese, but believed the killing was non-political and would not cloud his trip.
Turkish officials have said Padovese was killed by his driver, who has been charged with murder and appears to be mentally unstable.
The Pope appeared to accept Turkey’s explanation about the killing, saying it was not “a political or religious assassination, it was something personal.”
“This has nothing to do with the themes and realities of this trip,” the Pope said. “We must not give responsibility to Turkey or the Turks.”
Still, he spoke in his arrival remarks about the “challenges that Catholics face, sometimes in trying circumstances” in the Middle East. He made only an indirect reference to Cyprus’s division, urging patience to resolve “the future of your island.”
The visit is expected to be a test of whether the Benedict has found his diplomatic feet after his linking of Islam to violence during a speech in Germany led to outrage in the Muslim world â€” and nearly forced the cancellation of a trip to Turkey in 2006.
Read more:Â http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/06/04/pope-cyprus-trip-greek-turkish.html#ixzz0pvmhn9jm