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Cyprus issue, regional and environmental issues and immigration on the agenda of Pope Francis’ visit in Cyprus

The Cyprus problem, regional issues, environmental issues, immigration, the humanitarian issue of the missing, the pandemic and interfaith dialogue will be on the agenda of the discussions that Pope Francis will have in Cyprus during his visit from 2 to 4 December.

Speaking to the Press regarding the visit of Pope Francis to Cyprus, Government Spokesman Marios Pelekanos said that the arrival of the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church will take place on Thursday, December 2 in the morning and his departure on December 4 in the morning.

He noted that the Pope’s visit takes place at the invitation of the President of the Republic and of the Archbishop of Cyprus, and it proves the close relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the Vatican.

Pelekanos said that thousands of Catholics living on the island are part of the 1.4 billion faithful from dozens of countries around the world. He also said that the lease of land for the construction of the Vatican Embassy in Nicosia is a proof of the intention of both sides to further deepen their bilateral relations.

The Government Spokesman said that the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church will be received as it is fit for a head of state.

Regarding the meeting’s agenda, Pelekanos said that the President of the Republic will brief Pope Francis on the developments concerning the Cyprus issue, as regards the appointment of a UN envoy, as well as about Turkey’s provocations in Cyprus’ EEZ, in Varosha and the Karpas peninsula.

Among the issues that will be discussed, he added, are regional issues, the initiatives undertaken by the Republic of Cyprus in cooperation with other neighboring countries and Greece to promote peace and cooperation between the peoples of the region.

In addition, issues related to the environment will be discussed, such as the initiative of the President of the Republic on issues related to the effects of Climate Change in the Mediterranean basin, as well as the environmental policy pursued by the Holy See.

Pelekanos said that regarding the Immigration, the intention of the Holy See and of Pope Francis to relocate a number of immigrants to the Vatican will be discussed. This is an act, he stressed, that proves the solidarity of the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church with the people in need. It is also an act that confirms that the Vatican recognizes the problem facing the Republic of Cyprus today, due to increased migration flows and the need for a fair distribution of immigrants between EU member states in order to alleviate the problem in frontline countries.

The issue of determining the fate of the missing will also be discussed, as well as issues related to trafficking, to human rights and to the protection of cultural heritage. In the agenda will also be the need to respect all religions and the need to protect all believers regardless of religion.

Finally, he said, issues related to the challenges facing the world due to the new outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic will be discussed.

Regarding the program, Pelekanos stated that on the morning of December 2, Pope will arrive in Larnaca. At 4 pm there will be a meeting of Pope Francis with priests, ecclesiastical associations and movements in the Cathedral in Nicosia. At 5.15 pm there will be a reception ceremony at the Presidential Palace and at 6 pm a meeting with representatives of the Cypriot authorities, representatives of civil society and diplomats. At 8.30 pm, the President of the Republic will host a dinner for the delegation, at the Presidential Palace.

Pelekanos said that on December 3, at 8.30 in the morning, Pope Francis will have a meeting with the Archbishop of Cyprus, at 9 am he will have a meeting with the Holy Synod. At 10 am a Holy Mass will take place at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia and Pope Francis will adress those attending.

At 4pm there will be an ecumenical prayer with immigrants in the Church of the Holy Cross and on Saturday morning the delegation will depart from Cyprus.

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