Papal Cyprus visit, – excommunication threats, fake Cardinals & snipers

(ANSAmed) – NICOSIA, MAY 28 – Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Demetriou), Primate of the powerful Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, has had enough of those expressing their displeasure at the Pope’s visit to the island and in the manner to which he is accustomed has laid down the law. If they do not change their tune, he will expel them from the Holy Synod – the highest authority of the local church – for one year. Thus comes the latest development in an affair that has seen at least five high prelates of the Synod and the Primate facing off in the first serious split the high ranks of the Church of Cyprus has seen since the election of Chrysostomos II in 2006. As he has announced to the popular local daily Phileleftheros, Chrysostomos II has resolved to bring to their senses (especially the combatant Archbishop of Limassol, Athanasios, who called the Pope “a heretic”) those who have come out against the arrival of Benedict XVI on the island. So, the Primate has resolve, whoever boycotts the festivities to welcome the Pope and does not show up at the ceremony in Pafos scheduled for the afternoon of June 4, will be expelled from the Synod for the period of one year. Although the majority of Cypriots are of Greek-Orthodox faith, the Pope’s visit (the first by a Pope in 2,000 years) is nonetheless felt to be an historic event bringing prestige to the whole island, whose press is following any matters related to the Pope’s arrival with interest. And security has become a hot topic ever since the news broke forty-eight hours ago that groups of Greek-Orthodox fanatics might be arriving from Greece to add strong-arm tactics to local demonstrations against the Pope. This has led the local Cypriot authorities to arrange for strict security to guarantee that the visit goes smoothly, mobilizing 400 police officers for the task.

Arrangements are made in Cyprus to guarantee the Pope’s maximum security during his visit to the Island from June 4 to 6, and today the local press, citing various sources, highlight the many, also curious, details. The main security detail will comprise 400 policemen who will have to guarantee the application of the “strict measures” decided by Cypriot authorities in cooperation with undefined “foreign agencies” and with the Vatican secret service, already since several days with some representatives on the island to inspect the venues which the Pope will be visiting. Moreover, around the Pope, various “security areas” have been defined. The first, named “First zone”, is the physical space immediately surrounding the persona of Pope Ratzinger: the usually well-informed newspaper “Alithia”, reports that surveillance over his security will be kept by Vatican secret service members dressed as Cardinals. Just outside the “First zone”, and around it, there is the “Second zone”, under the responsibility of dozens of anti-terrorism agents who will be armed to the teeth (but unknown is whether they will be in uniform or in plain clothes), and of the Cypriot secret services (KYP). Lastly, reports “Alithia”, anti-terrorist snipers will be located on the rooftops of buildings surrounding all the open spaces which the Pope will visit.