BY CAROL GLATZ
POPE BENEDICT XVI will visit the Mediterranean island of Cyprus in early June next year.
The Cypriot government announced the visit on its website last week and Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi confirmed the news on the same day.
During the trip the Pope will deliver to Church leaders from the Middle East a summary of topics to be discussed at the October 2010 special Synod of Bishops on the Middle East, according to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.
The Pope had been invited by Cyprus’s president, Demetris Christofias, by Catholic leaders and by the country’s Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II.
While no official programme has been finalised, the Franciscan Custody website said the Pope was expected to be in Cyprus from June 4 to 6. It said he would stay in the capital, Nicosia, and make a brief visit to Paphos, where St Paul preached.
He will be the first pope in modern times to visit the Mediterranean island.
Church leaders in the region said they were thrilled about the visit. Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem, Maronite Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus, and Franciscan Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, said they had announced the visit “with great pleasure”.