Government Spokesman Marios Pelekanos briefed the media today on the visit of Pope Francis to Cyprus at the Presidential Palace.
According to Mr. Pelekanos, the Pope is scheduled to arrive in Cyprus the morning of December 2nd and depart on the morning of December 4th. Media outlets will be briefed later in the day on coverage procedures.
He added that "this is a visit that takes place at the invitation of the President of the Republic and the Archbishop of Cyprus, a visit that proves the close relations that the Republic of Cyprus maintains with the Vatican. We have several thousand Catholics living on the island, who are among the 1 billion 400 million believers in dozens of countries around the world."
Mr. Pelekanos emphasized that the lease of land for the construction of the Vatican Embassy in Nicosia is proof of the intention of both sides to further deepen their relations. He also informed representatives of the media that the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church will be awarded the appropriate honors as head of state.
Regarding the agenda of the President's meeting with Pope Francis, the President of the Republic will brief him on the developments concerning the Cyprus issue, both on the appointment of a UN envoy and on Turkey's challenges in the sea area of the Republic of Cyprus, in the enclosed city of Famagusta, as well as in Karpasia with the concession of land to the occupying army.
Among the topics to be discussed are regional issues, the initiatives undertaken by the Republic of Cyprus in cooperation with other neighboring countries and with Greece, to promote peace and cooperation between the peoples of the region. Issues related to the Environment will also 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.
As for Immigration, the intention of the Holy See and Pope Francis to relocate a number of immigrants to the Vatican will be discussed. This is an act that demonstrates the solidarity of the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church with our fellow human beings in need, 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 between EU member states in order to alleviate the problem in the front-line countries.
In addition, the issue of determining the fate of the missing will be discussed, issues related to trafficking in human beings and the fight against this phenomenon, issues related to human rights and their promotion and safeguarding, the protection of cultural heritage, including the Nicosia Convention, interfaith dialogue, the need to respect all religions and the need to protect all believers regardless of religion.
Finally, issues relating to the global challenges posed by the new outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic will also be discussed along with ensuring public health and other effects of the pandemic and its economic impact.
The arrival in Larnaca and the official reception of the mission will occur the morning of December 2 followed by a meeting at 4 pm with Catholic priests of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church and will include some religious organizations and members of the congregation. At 5:15 pm there will be a reception ceremony at the Presidential Palace and at 6 pm a meeting with Cypriot authorities, representatives of civil society and the Diplomatic Corps. At 8.30 pm, the President of the Republic will host a dinner for the papal delegation at the Presidential Palace.
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 the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at the GSP and there will be a speech by Pope Francis.
At 4 pm there will be an ecumenical prayer with immigrants in the Church of the Holy Cross and on Saturday morning the delegation will leave Cyprus.
Mr. Pelekanos ended his address to the media by thanking the Ambassador of the Republic to the Vatican, Mr. George Poullidis, for his assistance in the organization of the visit.