Pope Francis speaks out on therapeutic the rift between the Catholic and Orthodox church buildings


Pope Francis lamented centuries of hostility and prejudice which have divided Catholics and Orthodox as he met Friday with the chief of Cyprus’ Greek Orthodox Church and pointed to works of charity as a method to assist heal the rift between the Catholic West and Orthodox East. 

Archbishop Chrysostomos II hosted Francis for personal talks at his residence after which invited the pope to the model new Orthodox Cathedral of St. Barnabas for an encounter with the Holy Synod, the very best decision-making physique of the Greek Orthodox Church. 

Sitting in entrance of the gilded iconostasis, or altar, and because the Orthodox clergymen chanted, Francis lamented the “broad furrows” that historical past had cleaved between Catholics and Orthodox on account of the 1,000-year-old schism, when God wished all Christians united. 


Pope Francis, left, listens to Archbishop Chrisostomos during a ceremony at the Apostolos Barnavas Orthodox Cathedral in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. 

Pope Francis, left, listens to Archbishop Chrisostomos throughout a ceremony on the Apostolos Barnavas Orthodox Cathedral in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. 
(AP Picture/Alessandra Tarantino)

“Centuries of division and separation have made us assimilate, even involuntarily, hostility and prejudice with regard to at least one one other, preconceptions usually primarily based on scarce and distorted data, and unfold by an aggressive and polemical literature,” Francis mentioned. “This too makes crooked the trail of God, which is straight and directed to harmony and unity.” 

He mentioned concrete joint works of charity, training and efforts to advertise human dignity may help Catholics and Orthodox “rediscover our fraternity, and communion will mature by itself, to the reward of God.” 

In an indication of that unity, two Orthodox bishops attended Francis’ Mass later Friday at Nicosia’s predominant sports activities stadium for Cyprus’ tiny Catholic neighborhood. The stadium, which seats 22,000, was lower than half full and Francis eschewed his ordinary popemobile roundabout to greet the devoted earlier than the Mass, presumably as a result of the group solely crammed one set of stands. 

There too, although, Francis urged a message of unity in a rustic lacerated by divisions, even amongst Catholics. “Therapeutic takes place after we carry our ache collectively, after we face our issues collectively, after we hear and communicate to at least one one other,” he mentioned. 

On his half, Archbishop Chrysostomos mentioned the Cypriot church enjoys “glorious relations” with all church buildings and has lately pursued dialogue with Muslim leaders within the Center East – an effort he mentioned was largely ruined by “extremist parts” who “infected passions.” 

“We resolutely imagine within the peaceable decision of our variations whether or not these are ethnic or spiritual. And the one appropriate course is thru a genuinely honest dialogue,” he mentioned. 

Though Cyprus includes a tiny a part of the Japanese Orthodox neighborhood with round 800,000 devoted, Cypriot church leaders level to the Mediterranean island’s function because the “gateway” to Christianity’s westward growth owing to its proximity to the religion’s birthplace. 

Christianity first unfold to Cyprus in 45 A.D., when the Apostle Paul transformed the island’s Roman governor, Sergius Paulus, whereas on the primary cease of his first mission to unfold the religion. The Cypriot Church was itself mentioned to have been based by one other apostle, Barnabas. 

Francis has made Cyprus’ connection to the roots of Christianity a focus of his go to, which ends Saturday when he heads to Greece. Cypriot Church leaders are eager to strengthen ties with the Holy See since minority Christian communities in close by international locations worry that their religion is underneath assault amid armed conflicts. 

Pope Francis leads a holy mass at GSP stadium in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.

Pope Francis leads a holy mass at GSP stadium in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.
(AP Picture/Alessandra Tarantino)

Cyprus itself carries the scars of conflict. The nation divided alongside ethnic traces in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup aimed toward uniting the island with Greece. After the ethnic break up, 170,000 Christians fled the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north, the place church buildings, monasteries and different Christian monuments have been destroyed. 

Tens of hundreds of Muslim Turkish Cypriots fled northward following the top of hostilities. 

The destruction of Christian locations of worship was among the many key points that Chrysostomos raised with Francis in hopes that the pontiff’s political muscle will assist reignite stalled talks to reunify Cyprus and assist repatriate looted spiritual artistic endeavors together with icons, frescoes and mosaics. 

Chrysostomos appealed to the pontiff to personally intercede and assist restore “respect for our cultural heritage” and “Christian tradition, which in the present day are brutally violated by Turkey.” 

The archbishop cited the instance of Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who mediated with the German authorities to convey again 500 spiritual objects that Turkish antiquities smugglers had spirited away to Munich. 

Upon his arrival on Thursday, Francis urged Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to renew the talks, saying threats and exhibits of pressure solely delay the “horrible laceration” the island’s folks have endured for almost a half-century. 

“Allow us to nurture hope by the ability of gestures, slightly than by gestures of energy,” Francis instructed Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and different authorities leaders on the presidential palace, situated within the internally acknowledged, Greek Cypriot-led south. 

Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Apostolos Varnavas Orthodox Cathedral in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. 

Pope Francis waves as he arrives on the Apostolos Varnavas Orthodox Cathedral in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. 
(AP Picture/Petros Karadjias)

Prospects for unifying the island have hardly ever been as bleak as they’re now. Turkish Cypriots, underneath their newly elected chief Ersin Tatar, modified their stipulations for peace and demanded recognition of a separate state earlier than any deal may even be mentioned. 

Beforehand either side had agreed — with a United Nations Safety Council endorsement — that any deal would contain establishing a two-zone federation, with a Turkish Cypriot zone within the north, a Greek Cypriot one within the south and a single federal authorities regulating core ministries, together with protection and international affairs. 


Acknowledging the stall in talks and the persevering with struggling of Christians unable to return to their former properties within the majority Muslim north, Francis inspired an initiative of the island’s Christian and Muslim religion leaders to advertise reconciliation. 

“Instances that appear least favorable, when dialogue languishes, might be the very instances that put together for peace,” the pontiff mentioned. 

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