Archbishop Lazzarotto appointed Nuncio in Cyprus
Pope Benedict XVI appointed on August 30, 2012, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto Apostolic Nuncio in Cyprus. This appointment follows that of August 18, when Archbishop Lazzarotto was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine.
The new representative of the Catholic Church in Cyprus succeeds Archbishop Antonio Franco, who reached the canonical age of 75 years. The island is considered “part of the Holy Land.” Independent since 1959, a Republic since 1960, Cyprus has diplomatic relations with the Holy See since May 28, 1983.
The Nunciature has its headquarters in Nicosia, in a wing of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Cross. It is located in a “neutral zone”, on the green line that cuts the island in two. Cyprus is divided, since July 1974, among the Greeks in the south, and the majority members of the European Union, and the Turks in the north. The Nunciature hosted the Pope in 2010, during his stay on the island and had a view of the military zone controlled by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC, recognized only by Ankara), where, however, he did not go. The Pope said he did not come with a political message, but religious, to support the internal opening for peace, and recalled on that occasion, the Holy See’s diplomatic role: “We can also help with strategic and policy advice but the essential work of the Vatican is always that of religion, which touches the heart. ”
Benedict XVI was the first pope to visit this part of the island with an Orthodox majority. As is well known, he made dialogue with the Orthodox Church which is a priority of his pontificate. The Holy Father has also taken the opportunity to appeal for inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims. The apostolic journey was then the opportunity to deliver the “Working Document” which was later used for the Special Assembly for the Middle East Synod of Bishops, held in Rome from October 10 – 24, 2010. Note that the Apostolic Exhortation will be delivered in two weeks in Lebanon.
The island of Cyprus is located opposite to the Holy Land, at the entrance of Turkey, and also Syria and Antioch, which was the starting point for the evangelization of Persia, to China and India by St. Thoma, the Apostle. It is also close to Egypt, where millions of Coptic Christians recall having received the Gospel through St. Mark. The Catholic Church now has Latin and Maronite faithful. It is difficult to establish the exact number of the faithful in Cyprus (approximately 3.15% of the population). The priests of the Latin Catholic community belong to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with Father Evencio Herrera, OFM as the Patriarchal Vicar in Cyprus. The Maronites have an Archbishop directly related to the Maronite Patriarchate. The Latin community has its own representative in Parliament.