Monday, May 17, 2010

Warning against Pope protests

Warning against Pope protests
Published on May 16, 2010
Cyprus Mail

WITH POPE Benedict’s visit less than three weeks away, both Church and state are sending out a strong message to ward off any unruly protests against the Pontiff.
In an interview published yesterday in a Catholic publication, Cyprus’ ambassador to the Holy See, George Poulides was quoted as saying: “The security measures will be particularly severe with all the security forces of Cyprus on alert.”
Poulides said preparations for the June 4-6 visit had “reached fever pitch” and the “vast mobilisation of all of Cyprus” was expected. “Both the government, the Orthodox Church and the Catholic community are working non-stop,” he said.
It also emerged yesterday that Archbishop Chrysostomos II and the Holy Synod had sent a circular to be read in all churches today, calling on the public “to behave” during the Pope’s visit.
The letter calls on the Orthodox flock to “stay calm” and not listen to any provocative calls for protests or demonstrations that might come from “irresponsible elements”.
It assures the orthodox faithful that despite rumours to the contrary, the Church had no plans to discuss theological issues with Pope Benedict XVI, because this was the responsibility of the joint Theological Committee of Orthodox and Roman Catholics. “Nor will any agreements by signed as some have claimed,” the circular adds.
“If there was even the slightest of dangers to our faith, we would be the first to call for protests,” the Church said. It also assured Orthodoxy that the Pontiff would not be visiting the occupied north of the island, and it promised that the Archbishop would raise with Benedict the issue of the looting of churches in the breakaway state.
The Holy Synod’s announcement came just days after the Pancyprian Orthodox Christian Movement (PAHOC) was forced to deny distributing leaflets to schools, opposing the Pope’s visit and harshly criticising Cypriot Bishops and President Demetris Christofias for remaining quiet about recent paedophilia scandals within the Catholic Church.
PAHOC admitted issuing the leaflet but denied handing it out to schoolchildren.
One official who will be involved in “keeping order” during the Pope’s visit told the Sunday Mail yesterday actual security would be a matter for the state but he welcomed the Archbishop’s circular as an additional precaution. “The Church is taking this visit very seriously and wants to send a message to the faithful to respect the Pope. If they do not, it will paint a very bad picture of Cyprus,” he said.
The official said most Cypriots were looking forward to the visit and it was only a very small minority that had any objections.
Poulides said the visit of the Pope affirmed the great importance of the Church of Cyprus’ contribution to dialogue with Catholics and was an important act of friendship of the Pontiff toward the people of Cyprus.
Speaking of security issues in a earlier interview, the Archbishop of the Maronites in Cyprus Youssef Sweif has said: “It is a state visit and the government knows very well all these issues and there is cooperation with the Vatican and the United Nations''.
Some 20,000 people are expected to attend holy mass at Nicosia’s Eleftheria Stadium on June 6, which concludes the three-day official Papal visit, the first ever to the island.

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