Cyprus: Pope called for inter-religious dialogue
Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday called for dialogue between Christians and people of other faiths during the second day of his landmark visit to Cyprus, ADN Kronos reported.
The Mediterranean island is divided between Greek Orthodox Christians and Muslim communities from Turkey. It is the first visit to Cyprus by a pope and Benedict's first to an Orthodox country.
The pope also emphasized the need for cooperation between different Christian faiths.
"Much still needs to be done throughout the world," the 83-year-old pontiff said with regard to inter-religious dialogue.
"Only by patient work can mutual trust be built, the burden of history overcome and the political and cultural differences between peoples become a motive to work for deeper understanding," he said.
Benedict spoke at a Maronite primary school near Nicosia. The ancient Maronite church has its roots in Lebanon and Syria that is in communion with Rome and has been present in Cyprus for centuries, primarily in the northern part of the island that has been occupied by Turkey since 1974.
Most of the Maronites have moved to the Christian south leaving a number of villages almost empty.
In an address to the pontiff, Maronite Archbishop Youssef Soueif on Saturday asked Benedict to "please help us return to our villages."
Four ancient Maronite villages there have virtually died out, mostly the result of displacement after the Turkish invasion and occupation of the north in 1974.