On Friday morning 3 December, Pope Francis visited the Orthodox Archbishopric of Cyprus for a courtesy visit to His Beatitude Chrysostomos II. After the presentation of the respective delegations and a private meeting, and after the signing of the Book of Honour, Pope Francis went to the Orthodox Cathedral to meet with the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, accompanied by Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Christian Unity, and by other members of the papal delegation. During his address at the Orthodox Cathedral in Nicosia, the Pope underlined the common bonds between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and his desire to deepen ecumenical dialogue.
Pope Francis reflected that being in Cyprus called to mind the “common apostolic origin” they share. “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.”
During his address, Pope Francis assured those present of his prayers and closeness, and that of the Catholic Church, “in the most troubling problems that beset you and in the best and boldest hopes that spur you on. Your sorrows and your joys are also ours; we sense them as our own.”
The Holy Father continued, “Let us not become paralyzed by fear of openness or bold gestures, or give in to talk of ‘irreconcilable differences’ that in fact have nothing to do with the Gospel”. Recalling the figure of Saint Barnabus of Cyprus, who ‘sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet’ (Acts 4:37), Pope Francis reflected that “this splendid gesture suggests that, in order to be revitalized in communion and mission, we too need to have the courage to divest ourselves of all that, however precious, is earthly, in order to favour the fullness of unity. … The Holy Spirit desires that with humility and respect we once more draw close to one another, [inviting us] not to grow resigned to our past divisions and to cultivate together the field of the kingdom with patience, perseverance and concrete gestures”.
Pope Francis concluded that there are many saints, like St Barnabas, urging “us to sail together towards that harbour to which we all aspire. From on high, they encourage us to make of Cyprus, already a bridge between East and West, a bridge between heaven and earth.”
Photos © Servizio Fotografico | Vatican Media