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Holy Mass at Nicosia open stadium on Friday a highlight in Pope Francis’ Cyprus visit

On the second day of his historic visit to Cyprus, Pope Francis on Friday will first visit the Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus at 8.30am.

And then he will make his way to the Apostle Varnavas Cathedral before a much-anticipated Holy Mass at GSP Stadium in Nicosia which is scheduled to take place at 10am.

Francis, 84, started his first trip to Cyprus with a visit to the island’s Maronite cathedral, where he lauded Cyprus for its handling of a refugee influx authorities say is becoming overwhelming.

But he saved his most powerful words about the divided island’s stagnant political situation for an address to leaders and diplomats at the presidential palace.

“The greatest wound suffered by this land has been the terrible laceration it has endured in recent decades,” he said.

“I think of the deep suffering of all those people unable to return to their homes and their places of worship,” he added.

Cyprus is divided since a 1974 invasion by Tukey which still  maintains troops in the breakaway northern part of the EU member state.

Countless mediation attempts have failed and the peace process stalled in mid-2017, when talks collapsed because of Turkey’s intransigent stand. Tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots are internally displaced.

Francis, who has made defence of migrants and refugees a cornerstone of his papacy, has arranged to have 50 migrants relocated to Italy after his trip this week.

On Saturday, he will also travel to Greece including Lesbos Island, where many refugees have arrived.

 

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