Pope: Seek Unity Through Truth, Reconciliation

Renews Commitment to Ecumenism, Dialogue With Islam

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LARNACA, Cyprus, JUNE 6, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI bid farewell to Cyprus, emphasizing truth and reconciliation as two keys to promoting unity in that country.

The Pope gave a farewell address today at the Larnaca International Airport, at the conclusion of his apostolic trip to Cyprus that began Friday. He thanked the country's president, Demetris Christofias, and all those who helped to organize his trip.

"Let us all redouble our efforts to build a real and lasting peace for all the peoples," the Pontiff said.

"I have seen for myself something of the sad division of the island, as well as learning of the loss of a significant part of a cultural heritage which belongs to all humanity," he said.

During his visit the Holy Father stayed overnight in the apostolic nunciature, located in the U.N. buffer zone, which, since the Turkish invasion of 1974, divides the Turkish Cypriot community and the Greek Cypriot community.

"I have also listened to Cypriots from the north who wish to return in peace to their homes and places of worship, and I have been deeply moved by their pleas," Benedict XVI said.

He continued, "Surely truth and reconciliation, together with respect, are the soundest foundation for the united and peaceful future of this island, and for the stability and prosperity of all her people."

Encounters

The Pope also gave "thanks to God for these days which saw the first encounter of the Catholic community in Cyprus with the Successor of Peter on their own soil."

He recalled "with gratitude my meetings with other Christian leaders, in particular with His Beatitude Chrysostomos II and the other representatives of the [Orthodox] Church of Cyprus, whom I thank for their brotherly welcome."

"I hope that my visit here will be seen as another step along the path that was opened up before us by the embrace in Jerusalem of the late Patriarch Athenagoras and my venerable predecessor Pope Paul VI," the Pontiff said.

He continued: "Their first prophetic steps together show us the road that we too must tread.

"We have a divine call to be brothers, walking side by side in the faith, humble before Almighty God, and with unbreakable bonds of affection for one another."

"As I invite my fellow Christians to continue this journey," the Holy Father stated, "I would assure them that the Catholic Church, with the Lord's grace, will herself pursue the goal of perfect unity in charity through an ever deepening appreciation of what Catholics and Orthodox hold dearest."

He also expressed a "sincere hope and prayer that, together, Christians and Muslims will become a leaven for peace and reconciliation among Cypriots and serve as an example to other countries."

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Full text: http://zenit.org/article-29498?l=english