Nicosia (AsiaNews) - Recalling the embrace between Paul VI and Athenagoras, which marked the end of the schism of the two churches (begun in 1054, but essentially consummated with the Fourth Crusade in 1204) and the breakthrough in relations between Catholics and Orthodox Benedict XVI concluded his visit to the island of Cyprus.
With this reference in his farewell speech at the airport of Larnaca, the pope wanted to express his heartfelt wish that this visit has been another step forward along the path towards full unity, began, in his words, by the unforgettable Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and his great predecessor Paul VI.
Cypriots, and they were not alone, were greatly pleased by Benedict XVI words, when referring to his lodgings in the nunciature, right next to the buffer zone between the two parts of Cyprus, he said:" I have seen for myself something of the sad division of the island, as well as learning of the loss of a significant part of a cultural heritage which belongs to all humanity. I have also listened to Cypriots from the north who wish to return in peace to their homes and places of worship, and I have been deeply moved by their pleas”.
Referring to the "sad division of the island, he added that" much good has been achieved in this regard through substantive dialogue in recent years, though much remains to be done to overcome divisions” and commented favourably on the efforts towards reunification made by President Christofias.
In turn, President Christofias thanked Benedict XVI for his continued support for a just and durable solution to the Cyprus question, which will be resolved based on the motion of the United Nations and the principles of the European Union.
Comments in Cyprus regarding this visit, strongly supported by Archbishop Chrysostomos, claim it was important for two reasons. Firstly, it confirmed the belief that only with the ecumenical dialogue, strongly backed by the Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, can a response to the challenges of today be formulated and secondly, the spectre of the Crusades can not continue be held over the Catholic Church, as some fringes of the Orthodox world try to do every so often, fringes that are truly marginal and without social feedback. It is no accident that ecumenical dialogue has found new life in this land, an extremity of Christian Europe, towards those lands that have seen the birth of Christianity and where it now struggles to survive in the midst of a thousand difficulties.