Francis, at the cathedral, said that he “visited this land and traveled as a pilgrim in the footsteps of the great apostle Barnabas” and argued that the diversity of the church “reflects the place of Cyprus on the European continent” and that of the island ”history of intertwined peoples, a mosaic of encounters. He added that “walls do not and should not exist in the Catholic Church”.
He then rode in a Fiat 500, surrounded by a procession, to the presidential palace, where, after treading red carpets in front of colored guards and marching bands, he told dignitaries, many of whom wore masks emblazoned with their national flags, that Cyprus, as a “geographical, historical, cultural and religious crossroads, is able to be a peacemaker. Let it be a workshop for peace in the Mediterranean.
While the Cypriot government complained about having the highest percentage of migrants in the European Union given its small population, Francis presented the statistic in a more positive light, calling it only the last layer of ‘a varied texture for centuries. He admitted, however, that maintaining “the multi-colored and multifaceted beauty of the whole is not easy.”
Nicos Anastasiades, the Cypriot president, told Francis he would make land available to the Vatican to build an embassy, but until then Francis will remain in a Franciscan monastery in Nicosia – the divided capital of Cyprus. The medieval town is separated into a Greek side and a Turkish side, which are separated by a UN protected buffer zone.
He will then spend Saturday reaching out to Orthodox leaders and meeting officials before heading to Lesvos on Sunday, which Bruni said had “become a symbolic place.”