Nicosia: Pope Benedict XVI called on Saturday for
dialogue between Christians and people of other faiths on the
second day of his landmark visit to Cyprus, an island divided
between Christian and Muslim communities.
Benedict, who is on his first trip to an Orthodox
country, also stressed the need for closer cooperation among
other Christian churches, particularly in the Middle East,
where they are in a minority and struggling to survive.
"Much still needs to be done throughout the world," the
83-year-old pontiff said of inter-religious dialogue.
"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 for deeper
understanding," he said.
Benedict was speaking at a primary school near Nicosia of
the Maronites, a worldwide church with roots in Lebanon and
Syria that is in communion with Rome and has been present in
Cyprus for centuries, mostly in what is now the Turkish-held
north of the island.
While the pope did not specifically mention Islam, he is
known to be keen for closer dialogue with Muslims.
Yesterday, on his flight to Cyprus, he told journalists
"we must be able to talk to our Muslim brothers and pursue
this dialogue toward a more fruitful co-existence."