Pope Francis says "...what the first Christians gave to the world with the gentle power of the Spirit was an unprecedented message of beauty." FULL TEXT to Cyprus' Civil Leaders
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO CYPRUS AND GREECE
(2-6 DECEMBER 2021)
MEETING WITH THE AUTHORITIES, CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER
“Ceremonial Hall” of the Presidential Palace in Nicosia
Thursday, December 2, 2021
Members of the Government and of the Diplomatic Corps,
distinguished religious and civil Authorities,
distinguished Representatives of society and the world of culture,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
I greet you cordially, showing you my joy of being here. I thank you, Mr. President, for the welcome you have given me on behalf of the entire population.
I came as a pilgrim to a small country for geography but great for history; on an island that over the centuries has not isolated the people, but has connected them; in a land whose border is the sea; in a place that marks the eastern gate of Europe and the western gate of the Middle East. You are an open door, a port that connects: Cyprus, a crossroads of civilization, carries within itself the innate vocation to encounter, favored by the welcoming character of the Cypriots.
We have just paid homage to the first President of this Republic, Archbishop Makarios, and in making this gesture I wanted to pay homage to all citizens. His name, Makarios, evokes the opening words of Jesus' first discourse: the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5 : 3-12). Who is makarios, who is truly blessed according to the Christian faith, to which this land is inseparably linked?
Blessed can all be, and they are above all the poor in spirit, the wounded by life, those who live with meekness and mercy, those who without appearing practice justice and build peace. The Beatitudes, dear friends, are the perennial constitution of Christianity. Living them allows the Gospel to always be young and to fertilize society with hope. The Beatitudes are the compass for orienting, at every latitude, the routes that Christians face in the journey of life.
Precisely from here, where Europe and the East meet, the first great inculturation of the Gospel on the continent began and it is exciting for me to retrace the steps of the great missionaries of the origins, in particular of Saints Paul, Barnabas and Mark. Here I am, therefore, a pilgrim among you to walk with you, dear Cypriots; with all of you, in the desire that the good news of the Gospel from here will bring a happy message to Europe under the sign of the Beatitudes. Indeed, what the first Christians gave to the world with the gentle power of the Spirit was an unprecedented message of beauty . It was the surprising novelty of bliss within reach of all that won the hearts and freedoms of many. This country has a particular heritage in that sense, as a messenger of beauty between continents. Cyprus shines with beauty in its territory, which must be protected and safeguarded with appropriate environmental policies agreed with the neighbors. The beauty also shines through in the architecture, in the art, especially sacred, in the religious craftsmanship, in the many archaeological treasures. Drawing an image from the sea that surrounds us, I would like to say that this island represents a pearl of great value in the heart of the Mediterranean.
A pearl, in fact, becomes what it is because it forms over time: it takes years for the various layers to make it compact and shiny. Thus the beauty of this land derives from the cultures that over the centuries have met and mixed. Even today, the light of Cyprus has many facets: there are many peoples and peoples who, with different colors, make up the chromatic range of this population. I am also thinking of the presence of many immigrants, in percentage terms the most significant among the countries of the European Union. Keeping the multicolored and multifaceted beauty of the whole is not easy. As in the formation of a pearl, it requires time and patience, it requires a broad gaze that embraces the variety of cultures and looks to the future with far-sightedness. In this sense, it is important to protect and promote every component of society, in a special way those statistically minorities. I am also thinking of various Catholic entities that would benefit from appropriate institutional recognition, so that the contribution they make to society through their activities, especially educational and charitable, is well defined from a legal point of view.
A pearl brings out its beauty in difficult circumstances. It is born in the dark, when the oyster "suffers" after having undergone an unexpected visit that undermines its safety, such as a grain of sand that irritates it. To protect herself she reacts by assimilating what has hurt her: she wraps what is dangerous and foreign to her and transforms it into beauty, into a pearl. The pearl of Cyprus was overshadowed by the pandemic, which prevented many visitors from entering and seeing its beauty, aggravating, as in other places, the consequences of the economic and financial crisis. In this period of recovery, however, it will not be the enthusiasm to recover what has been lost to guarantee solid and lasting development, but the commitment to promote the recovery of society, in particular through a decisive fight against corruption and the wounds that damage the dignity of the person; I am thinking, for example, of human trafficking.
But the wound that this land suffers most is given by the terrible laceration it has suffered in recent decades. I think of the inner suffering of those who are unable to return to their homes and places of worship. I pray for your peace, for the peace of the whole island, and I wish it with all my strength. The way to peace, which heals conflicts and regenerates the beauty of fraternity, is marked by one word: dialogue, which you, Mr. President, have repeated many times. We must help ourselves to believe in the patient and meek strength of dialogue, that strength of patience, of “carrying on our shoulders”, hypomoné , drawing it from the Beatitudes. We know it is not an easy road; it is long and tortuous, but there are no alternatives for reaching reconciliation. We feed hope with the strength of gestures rather than hoping for gestures of strength . Because there is a power of gestures that prepares for peace: not that of gestures of power, threats of retaliation and demonstrations of power, but that of gestures of relaxation, concrete steps of dialogue. I am thinking, for example, of the commitment to prepare for a sincere discussion that puts the needs of the population first, of an increasingly active involvement of the international community, of the safeguarding of religious and cultural heritage, of the restitution of what is in this sense particularly dear to the people, like the places or at least the sacred furnishings. In this regard, I would like to express appreciation and encouragement to the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Project , promoted by the Embassy of Sweden, so that dialogue is cultivated among the religious leaders.
Precisely the times that do not seem propitious and in which dialogue languishes are those that can prepare for peace. The pearl still reminds us of this, which becomes such in the dark patience of weaving new substances together with the agent who wounded it. In these situations, hatred must not prevail, do not give up healing the wounds, do not forget the situation of the missing persons. And when the temptation to get discouraged comes, think of future generations, who wish to inherit a peaceful, collaborative, cohesive world, not inhabited by perennial rivalries and polluted by unresolved disputes. This is the purpose of dialogue, without which suspicion and resentment grow. Let us refer to the Mediterranean, now unfortunately a place of conflicts and humanitarian tragedies; in its profound beauty it is the mare nostrum, the sea of all the peoples who come to it to be connected, not divided. Cyprus, a geographical, historical, cultural and religious crossroads, has this position to implement a peace action. May it be an open yard for peace in the Mediterranean.
Peace does not often arise from great characters, but from the daily - every day - determination of the little ones. The European continent needs reconciliation and unity, it needs courage and momentum to move forward. Because it will not be the walls of fear and the vetoes dictated by nationalist interests that will help its progress, nor will economic recovery alone guarantee its security and stability. Let's look at the history of Cyprus and see how the meeting and the welcome have borne long-term beneficial fruits. Not only in reference to the history of Christianity, for which Cyprus was "the springboard" on the continent, but also for the construction of a society that has found its wealth in integration. This spirit of enlargement,
Referring to Cyprus, the Acts of the Apostles recount that Paul and Barnabas "crossed the whole island" to reach Pafos (cf. Acts 13: 6). It is a joy for me to cross the history and soul of this land in these days, with the desire that its longing for unity and its message of beauty continue to guide its path. O Theós na evloghí tin Kípro! [God bless Cyprus!]
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va - Image Screenshot - Translation from Italian