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Given that this weekend’s first papal trip to Cyprus coincided with renewed outcry over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (prompted by the recent Gaza-bound flotilla violence), and the murder of a Turkish Catholic bishop, Pope Benedict understandably focused on delivering a Christian message of hope to the troubled region, both for interfaith harmony in the Middle East and for a peaceful reconciliation of the island’s decades-long Greek and Turkish division.

Catholic News Agency’s European section put out about a dozen stories from the visit, ranging from the pontiff’s brief exchange of greetings with a Turkish Cypriot Muslim religious leader to his words of encouragement for the island’s minority Maronite and Armenian Catholics. The visit also got covered by The New York Times and the Associated Press. For the local angles, check out the stories and photos put out by my former colleagues at The Cyprus Mail.

As for an insider tidbit, one of my friends in Cyprus shared this impression during the papal visit (which had not been on the radar of average Cypriots):

I wonder if the Pope wears earplugs… it’s been 24 hours and I’m already nauseous from the din of low-flying helicopters, sirens and church bells… Is that the sound of God these days?

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