Thursday, June 10, 2010
NICOSIA, Cyprus: Pope Benedict XVI has met with a Muslim leader Syeikh Muhammad Nazim Al Haqqani on his pilgrimage to Cyprus, part of efforts to talk to both sides of the decades-old conflict on the island divided between ethnic Greeks and Turks.
The pope did not travel to northern Cyprus, which has been occupied by Turkey since 1974, but the Vatican said he was interested in meeting Muslim representatives.
The brief meeting Saturday afternoon came as the pope was walking in a procession to a Mass at a church near the Green Line separating the two sides. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Benedict stopped to greet the 88-year-old Sheik Nazim and that the encounter was "short but very nice."
Lombardi said the Muslim leader and the 83-year-old Benedict joked about their ages.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) â€” Pope Benedict XVI appealed Saturday for support for embattled Christian communities in the Middle East, calling them a vital force for peace in the region.
Benedict's three-day pilgrimage to Cyprus is part of preparations for a crisis summit of Middle East bishops in Rome in October. Many bishops from the region have traveled to Cyprus to see Benedict and receive a working paper for the summit that will be made public Sunday.
War and harsh economic conditions have led to the exodus of thousands of Christians from the Holy Land, Iraq and elsewhere in recent years.
Meeting with Orthodox Christian Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Benedict said the continuing conflict in the Middle East "must be a source of concern to all of Christ's followers."
"No one can remain indifferent to the need to support in every way possible the Christians of that troubled region, so that its ancient churches can live in peace and flourish," Benedict said.
Benedict has walked a careful diplomatic path since arriving Friday on this divided eastern Mediterranean island. Cyprus was ethnically split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots declared an independent republic in the north in 1983, but only Turkey recognizes it, and it maintains 35,000 troops there.
Shortly after Benedict's arrival, the Cypriot archbishop launched a harsh attack against Turkey, accusing it of ethnic cleansing and of aiming to take over the entire island.
Benedict has not responded directly to the Greek Cypriot leaders. On Saturday, he called for a "just settlement" of outstanding issues.
President Dimitris Christofias kept it up Saturday when Benedict visited him at the presidential palace in the divided capital. He urged the international community to put its larger geopolitical interests aside and pressure Turkey to reach an accord reunifying the island.
Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu last month resumed long-running peace talks after a two-month pause.
While Benedict has no plans to visit northern Cyprus, his spokesman said it is likely the pope will meet with a Muslim delegation.
In addressing members of Cyprus' tiny Catholic community, he stressed the importance of interreligious dialogue for the Catholic community, a reference to the overwhelmingly Muslim Turkish Cypriots.
"Only by patient work can mutual trust be built, the burden of history overcome, and the political and cultural differences between peoples become a motive to work fore deeper understanding," Benedict said.
Associated Press writer Menelaos Hadjicostis contributed to this report from Nicosia.
Berikut link video pertemuan Mawlana Syaikh Nazim dengan Paus Benediktus XVI.
Benedikt XVI.: â€¦ Thank you
Maulana: Thank you, Sir.
Benedikt XVI.: We regret for â€¦ unfortunate
Maulana: Very happy. Very happy God bless you.
Benedikt XVI.: Thank you. God bless you also.
Maulana: Pray for me.
Benedikt XVI.: I pray for you.
Maulana: I am so old one.
Benedikt XVI.: I am also old.
Maulana: And this area is my home, just here. Behind this my house, I am growing. Subhanallah. One day I am meeting His Holiness to be here, that is most surprising event. Mashaallah, mashaallah.
Benedikt XVI.: God bless you. Give my grettings to all brothers and sisters â€¦ God bless you.
Maulana and Pope hugging each other.
Maulana: Good one. Open it (present).
Presents were given.
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