Nicosia, Cyprus-The rulers of Cyprus’s New Calendar Orthodox Church lashed out on Tuesday at critic’s of the Pope’s planned June 4-6 tour of the island
Some members of the Holy Synod have expressed concern and opposition to the Roman Catholic Pope’s visit, calling him a “heretic.”
At least five members of the Synod were planning to boycott the welcoming ceremony for the Pope, the daily newspaper Phileleftheros reports.
Seeking to silence the dissenter’s, Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) on Tuesday told critics they must toe the line and avoid offending a guest of the church and state. Last week he issued a warning that those against this visit put themselves “outside the church” as well as alluding they also place themselves against Cyprus’s government. “There is democracy in the Church, freedom of speech and expression. But people cannot just do the first thing that comes into their heads. People can believe what they like, but that does not mean offending a guest”, said the New Calendar Archbishop.
Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit is the result of a formal invitation made by Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) and the president of (Greek) Cyprus, Demitrios Christofias
The Greek Cypriot population are predominantly members of the Orthodox Christian faith with a small community of Catholics, mainly migrant workers from the Phillippines and Sri Lanka, which government statistics numbered at 22,000 in April of 2009. The number of Roman Catholic’s has grown in recent years as more and more immigrants move to the island.
The Pope says he’s visiting Cyprus to promote human and Christian values and principles by following in the footsteps” of St. Paul, who was lashed on a pillar in the city of Paphos. According to the Book of Acts. Paul visited the island in 47 AD with St. Mark the Evangelist and St. Mark’s kinsman, Barnabas, who founded the church in Cyprus.
The only difference is the Pope will be following in St. Paul’s footsteps while riding in a 500,000 euro, (which is about $610,000 US) bulletproof limo paid for by Cyprus’s economically strapped government.