On the Pope’s visit & the “Orthodox Taliban”

Excerpts from an article from AsiaNews…

The director of the Vatican Press Office, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi – “It’s a visit of great importance with many meanings.The meeting with the Orthodox Church of Cyprus is essential. The trip will be characterized by signs of fraternal friendship in the common commitment to seek full unity among all Christians, as both churches are committed to ecumenical dialogue Of course, the choice of Cyprus to present the preparatory document of the Synod of Bishops of the Middle East is a clear sign that the Pope considers Cyprus a privileged meeting point for Christians of the region and certainly wants to speak not only to Catholics but to all inhabitants of the region including those of other religions, Muslims and Jews, as part of the Catholic Churches commitment to human and spiritual development and a dialogue that builds peace.”

Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) – ” the visit is one of great importance for the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, as it will strengthen ties between the two Churches and consequently dialogue. All Orthodox Churches recognizes the Church of Rome as a sister Church and thus its leader, the pope. “The will of God consists in loving your enemy, and more so your brothers. I will ask the Pope’s support for a just solution in Cyprus, and also speak of Christian monuments destroyed in the northern part of the ‘Island, still occupied by 30 thousand soldiers of the’ Turkish army, “accompanied” by 70 thousand settlers, who have altered the demographic composition of the area. I was not very optimistic about the willingness of Ankara, given that Turkey has always ignored the pressures of Presidents of the USA to reopen the Theological School of Chalki.”

Fr. Lombardi on right

Fr. Lombardi – “Pope Benedict XVI’s message is above all one of peace and prosperity for the people of Cyprus, and the desire for a definitive peaceful solution to the painful situation that exists today”

Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) on the two metropolitans, Athanasios of Lemesso and Pavlos of Kirinias who have spoken out against the Pope’s presence in Cyprus – “I invited them to behave properly and respect the decisions of the synod, which they had initially agreed with”. And the necessary consequences will be met at the end of the visit.”

Fr. Lombardi – ” A pair of extreme positions do not represent the views of the community and particular weight can not be attributed to them. Authoritative voices from Athens have also been raised against this meagre fringe, defined Orthodox Taliban, who have no influence in civil society, but who know how to make themselves heard. They accuse the Catholic Church of authoritarianism, say the intellectuals of Athen’s Orthodox circles, while they are the first to implement a feudal behaviour, contrary to Orthodox tradition of collegial respect. The position of the Metropolitan of Messinias Chrysostosmos, professor at the University of Athens is of particular relevance, who described the statements by the Metropolitan of Piraeus ( who is against the Pope’s visit ) as unseemly and unsubstantiated.