Pope Francis, who is visiting Cyprus on Friday spoke of reconciliation between the Catholic and the Orthodox Church during his visit with Archbishop Chrysostomos and the Holy Synod in Nicosia.
“It is my heartfelt hope that there will be increased opportunities for encounter, for coming to know one another better, for eliminating preconceptions, and for listening with docility to our respective experiences of faith. This will prove for each of us an exhortation and incentive to do better, and bring a spiritual fruit of consolation,” Francis said.
He noted that both Churches had a common apostolic origin: St. Paul traversed Cyprus and went on to Rome.
Pope: Catholic and Orthodox Churches have the same apostolic zeal
“We are thus heirs of the same apostolic zeal, and a single path joins us, that of the Gospel. I like to see us advancing on that same path, seeking ever greater fraternity and full unity.”
He said he was not speaking of what was sacred and helped both Churches encounter the Lord, “but of the risk of absolutizing certain customs and habits that do not require uniformity and assent on the part of all” and urged that both not become paralyzed by fear of openness or bold gestures, or give in to talk of irreconcilable difference” that have nothing to do with the Gospel.
“Let us not permit the ‘traditions,’ in the plural and with a small ‘t’, to prevail over ‘Tradition,’ in the singular and with a capital ‘T,'” he added.
If the Churches set aside abstract concepts and collaborate, for example in works of charity, education and the promotion of human dignity, they would rediscover their fraternity.
“Centuries of division and separation have made us assimilate, even involuntarily, hostility and prejudice with regard to one another, preconceptions often based on scarce and distorted information and spread by aggressive and polemical literature. This too makes crooked the path of God, which is straight and directed to concord and unity,” Pope Francis declared.
The Pope then officiated at an open-air Mass at GSP Stadium in Nicosia. Thousands of faithful gathered to hear him recalling a passage from Mark’s Gospel, in which as Jesus passed by, two blind men cried out “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”
The Pope noted that the two men were blind, yet they realized that Jesus was the Messiah who had come into the world. They can help us, during this advent season, “to welcome the Lord when he comes,” said the Pope.
Man arrested for carrying a knife
Just before the open-air Mass, police arrested a man carrying a knife who attempted to gain access to the stadium. According to a Reuters report, a security source, requesting anonymity, said the knife appeared to be ‘for personal use’ and appeared unrelated to the presence of the Pope in Cyprus. The man, thought to be from Nigeria, was being questioned.
On Thursday, President Nicos Anastasiades stated that the Pope’s decision to visit a small island like Cyprus proves the greatness of the Pope’s personality, to the peoples who suffer and who endure violations of international law.
Pope Francis: Cyprus is a harbor that unites
The Pope said he comes to Cyprus “with the same desire as the Apostle Barnabas: to see the grace of God at work in your Church and your land, to rejoice with you at the wondrous things the Lord has done, and to urge you to persevere always, without growing weary or discouraged.”
Pope Francis in his address thanked the President and all Cypriots for their warm welcome noting how down through the centuries the people have welcomed foreigners, calling Cyprus “an open door, a harbor that unites,” while also a continuing “crossroads of civilizations.”