12/02/2021 Cyprus (International Christian Concern) – Today, Pope Francis is travelling to Cyprus for a brief trip to spotlight migration as a humanitarian crisis. With the trip, Francis becomes the second pope to visit the island that has been divided by Turkish occupation for 47 years.
Although Cyprus has a rich history of Christianity dating back to the time of St. Paul in the first century, the Turkish invasion of north Cyprus in 1974 has divided the island and displaced hundreds of thousands of Greek Cypriot Christians. Since the invasion, Turks in Cyprus have taken over churches in the north, turning several into mosques as well as some into places of entertainment.
Additionally, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the island earlier this year to announce the continued development of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which has only been recognized by Turkey. The announcements come despite many international calls from Turkey’s NATO allies and the UN to withdraw its forces from north Cyprus.
In an address prior to the visit, Pope Francis told Cypriots that he plans on coming “in the footsteps of the first great missionaries” and referred to Cyprus as “the outpost of the Holy Land on the continent.”
While in Cyprus, Pope Francis will meet with civil and religious authorities, after which he will travel to Greece. Similarly to his trip to Iraq earlier this year, Francis plans on bringing a message of hope for the Christian community in Cyprus to encourage the historic communities amidst persecution.
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