Pope Francis calls for unity in Cyprus, says Western Europe must build ‘a united Europe’

CATHEDRAL OF CATHOLIC SYMPHONY IN MANZIELAS, CYPRUS — Pope Francis said on a visit to Cyprus on Sunday that the euro zone could overcome its economic difficulties if it is willing to work on…

Pope Francis calls for unity in Cyprus, says Western Europe must build ‘a united Europe’

CATHEDRAL OF CATHOLIC SYMPHONY IN MANZIELAS, CYPRUS — Pope Francis said on a visit to Cyprus on Sunday that the euro zone could overcome its economic difficulties if it is willing to work on policies that foster unity and instead allow countries to strengthen their ties within the common currency.

“The euro zone needs to show the same determination of its main members to respect each other’s political sovereignty, true sovereignty and let there be a united Europe,” the pope said after arriving for a 90-minute private meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

“In order to overcome difficulties with sincerity and above all with dialogue, we have to throw aside the wall of fear and build the basis of trust which will build future,” he said, speaking in front of a statue of Jesus Christ at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

Francis urged Cyprus and its neighbors to pursue a path of unity, trust and freedom, which he said would “open a future of reconciliation and stability.”

“On the Mediterranean Sea, we often hear of walls and fences, but maybe one day we will not hear of those and to focus instead on a future of a united Cyprus,” he said, adding, “So that we can talk about relations rather than issues, which cause so much damage, anger and the closure of societies.”

The meeting took place at the finish line of the pope’s trip to the island in the latest of five visits to the Mediterranean country since he was elected in 2013.

Father Nazim Daryaberi, the apostolic administrator of the church in the archdiocese, said the pontiff was greeted by 300 young people from the church’s Boy Scouts of Europe. They presented him with gifts including a campaign for reform.

“This pope has a real sense of justice,” he said. “This was the most dynamic meeting, this pope has emotional connection with the youth. The youth is so key to him because that’s how they influence him.”

Following his flight to the Cyprus, Francis visited Mararchana Hill at the heart of the divided city of Nicosia to greet the families of the city’s slain police officers.

The pontiff, whose visit comes on the 72nd anniversary of the Greek Orthodox island’s division, walked quietly with some 300 worshipers. Waving his left hand to the wind he approached the platform erected at the eastern end of the monument.

Dressed in a black “black” robe, the pope leaned out over the small platform and lifted his arms slightly in a prayerful gesture. He bowed down, prayed silently and then strode back slowly, accompanied by a Greek Orthodox nun who served him water.

At St. Sophia’s Church, the pope prayed over a niche where the body of Peter, the Catholic church’s fourth and early-historic pope, was found. Later, in reference to the massacre of the city’s police officers this week, Francis said: “No one can understand such a crime without seeing in it also the violence of hatred, the hatred of a few. The violence of hatred leads to the destruction of common people and peace.”

By Nicole Williams, Associated Press

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