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PopeWatch: Cypriots Shrug at ‘Moral Influence’ of Papal Visit

I’ve been scaling back on PopeWatch posts, but here’s something I found personally interesting: Catholic News Agency reports that Cyprus’ ambassador to the Holy See asserts that Pope Benedict’s upcoming visit to my mother’s homeland will be a “massive moral influence” on the divided Mediterranean island.

Here are my top five reasons why this statement is unintentionally hilarious, with help from an informal panel of Cypriots from both sides of the island’s Green Line:

1. Hardly anyone in Cyprus is Catholic. (CNA estimates the Catholic population at 3 percent, which is probably on the high side, because it looks like this doesn’t factor in the predominantly Muslim population of the Turkish-occupied north.)


2. Most Cypriots don’t care about the papal visit. During my recent stay, I found only one person — not including journalists — who even vaguely knew the pope is coming in a few weeks. (On the bright side, this probably means he’ll get a break from the demonstrations that targeted him during his Malta and Portugal trips.)

3. Pope Benedict isn’t visiting the Turkish-occupied north — a missed photo opportunity to simultaneously push for ethnic reconciliation and the restoration of the Apostolos Andreas monastery (a World Heritage site and the “Lourdes of Cyprus”). Perhaps this is due to security concerns, but in any case, how can he be a moral influence for peace when he isn’t even visiting both sides of the conflict?


4. Given the clergy sex abuse scandal plaguing the Vatican and wrenching the souls of Catholics around the world, is Pope Benedict really in a position to be a “massive moral influence” on a non-Catholic country?

5. What, exactly, is the “moral” problem in Cyprus that a papal visit could influence, anyway? The political cronyism? The rabid football (soccer) fandom? The boozing, topless tourists? (Pope Benedict would be more effective addressing the hungover masses once they’re back in England during his planned September visit there — assuming he’s not too busy dodging protesters calling for his arrest — and in his native Germany.)


Having said all that, there is one moral issue Pope Benedict could address: the treatment of the country’s tens of thousands of Filipino and Sri Lankan domestic workers, including Catholics who would be thrilled to see him. But, it doesn’t look like he has any specific plans to meet with them — his itinerary has a vague reference to meeting with the island’s Catholics on Saturday morning, but the workers usually only get Sundays off.


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posted May 22, 2010 at 2:27 am

Absolutely, the treatment of the domestic workers in Cyprus is effectively modern indentured servitude — I can’t see how that country is allowed to be in the EU and allow this to go on.
It’s absurd.

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posted May 22, 2010 at 2:38 am

Niclole, you are starting to show your true colors. You may want to be careful, but that is up to you.
Normally the pope as head of state has to be invited to a place such as the Turkish section. I suppose he could go as a tourists, however. Should he do that?
An ancient legend and riddle here is “Quo Vadis”? Peter was leaving Rome on the Via Appia due to persecution in Rome. Christ met him and asked him “Quo Vadis?” (Where are you going?) Peter answered he is leaving Rome. Christ said something like “then I will go there, to be crucified again”!

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posted May 22, 2010 at 5:18 am

Regarding your concern about the Filipinos and other foreign workers, they are invited to the Papal Mass on SUNDAY at 9.30 a.m. along with all the other Catholics.
The Pope has been invited by the President of the Republic of Cyprus;
Greek Cypriots would not think it appropriate for him to visit the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus. The Pope has to be sensitive to his hosts.

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posted May 22, 2010 at 9:01 am

Neither Peter nor the current pope was granted the gift of impeccability. It is the office we respect, not always the man.

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Nicole Neroulias

posted May 22, 2010 at 10:47 am

It’s neither the office nor the man that I find problematic here — it’s the ambassador’s assertion that the upcoming papal visit will have a “massive moral influence” on Cyprus.

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posted May 22, 2010 at 10:49 am

Well Nicole people like you might not understand the moral influence Benedict could have on the Cyprus Church.You seem to be one of the reporters who are out of touch from reality especially in the context of Catholic-Orthodox relationship and unification talks.
Well have you heard about the Ravenna document in which the Orthodox leaders and theologians accepted that the ‘Pope is the first among the equals, did you hear about the readiness of the Eastern Orthodoxy to discuss of the authority of the Bishop of Rome(Pope) as was in the first millenium.
Did you know that the Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II would like to have Cyprus as venue for meeting between Benedict and the Russian Patriarch Kiril.Did you know that the Catholic and Russian Orthodox are planning for this historical summit between Benedict and Kiril
Did you read anywhere what Metropolitan Hilarion the ‘foreigh minister’ say of the great respect they have to this pope.
And as far as the child abuse scandal is considered I have to tell you we have great confidence in Bendict. Why didn’t you write that there was a massive turn out of people in Portugal to meet the Pope,more people turned out than when John Paul 2 went to Fatima in 2000.
Nicole this journey of pope is of great historical imporance. It opens the way for more stronger relations with the Orthodox Church.
I have to tell you don’t be like dissident Pancyprian Orthodox mad men who are simple raw bigots.

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posted May 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Maybe he will have as much influence on the Cypriots as he did in Portugal. None. After all, the president of Portugal has signed the bill allowing homosexual marriage…..right after Benny left. :o)

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posted May 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Everyone sounds so knowledgable about their Catholic religion here. I wouldn’t know if they are right or wrong, because I’m a protestant Christian. It’s that old saying again, “Birds of a feather flock together”. It does appear, at least in the news, that the flocks are dimminishing though.

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Robert C

posted May 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Thinning flocks have more to do with unchecked secularism rather than desire. As far as what morality issue is on Cyprus, well, the island remains the prime destination in human sex traffic from the eastern european nations. Granted the Ottomans were never ones to disparage a good raping or pillaging, but they’ve ratcheted up the level of sophistication a bit to appeal to British tourists on the sly.

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posted May 25, 2010 at 10:11 am

You say that in Cyprus Pope Benedict “will get a break from the demonstrations that targeted him during his Malta and Portugal trips”
I was in Malta when the Popewas here; I am not aware of any demonstrations targeting him. Now have any reports come out of Portuguese demonstrating against him. In both countries the opposite was true.
As to what shall happen in Cyprus will have much to say about Cypriot society.

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