Archbishop Chrysostomos II and members of the Holy Synod welcomed "with love and respect" Pope Benedict XVI and those with him yesterday at the Archdiocese of Cyprus.
The Archbishop spoke of the significance of the Church of Cyprus as an apostolic See that received its autocephaly at the Third Ecumenical Synod in 431 AD. He also pointed out his hopes for further dialogue between the churches in the future.
The Pope responded by thanking the Archbishop for his hospitality and the recent ecumenical gathering between Orthodox and Catholics in Cyprus. He also called Cyprus a "piece of the Holy Land". He encouraged a relationship between Catholics and Orthodox in Cyprus to preserve its Christian past.
Following the meeting the Pope was escorted to the Byzantine Museum. The curator of the museum appealed to the Pope to help in the return of stolen treasures, of approximately 300 items, which for the past 13 years are still in Monoco. Because some of these treasures also belong to the Maronites of Cyprus, he requested the Pope contact the Archbishop of Monoco to help with this situation. The Pope showed much interest in this topic.
That evening a dinner was held at the Archdioce with the Pope and those with him by Archbishop Chrysostomos and the Holy Synod. Gifts were exchanged afterwards. The Pope gave the Archbishop a mosaic of Saint Kyriaki along with a portion of the Column of the Apostle Paul, while the Archbishop gave the Pope a silver disk which depicted the founders of the Church of Cyprus, the apostles Paul and Barnabas.
Metropolitans Athanasios of Lemissol, Paul of Kyrenia, and Barnabas of Trymithountos, as well as Bishops Nicholas of Amathountos and Epiphanios of Lydra did not attend any of the events of the day.
Before his departure the Pope celebrated Mass at Nicosia's Eleftheria Stadium. Across the road from the stadium 20 people gathered holding up signs which said "Papism is not a brotherly religion, but heresy". Besides this, no other dramatic happenings occurred throughout the visit, and the Pope left Cyprus today in peace