Cyprus Mail

Religious leaders committed to dialogue, dismayed at state of churches

Cyprus' religious leaders (CM archives)

The religious leaders of Cyprus have affirmed their commitment to dialogue and cooperation, during a High-Level meeting of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) that coincided with the 22nd Anniversary of the International Day of Tolerance. They also visited historic churches within the Nicosia buffer zone that are at risk of collapsing and expressed their dismay with their tragic state.

According to a relevant announcement, the meeting was hosted by the Ambassador of Sweden to Cyprus, Anna Olsson Vrang, at her residence in Nicosia. It was attended by Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Mufti of Cyprus Talip Atalay, Armenian Archbishop Khoren Doghramadjian, Latin Patriarchal Vicar Jerzy Kraj and Father Ibrahim Khita representing Maronite Archbishop Soueif.

The religious leaders discussed recent developments related to the religious heritage of Cyprus and religious freedom in Cyprus, as well as their joint plans for the rest of the year. They reiterated their request for the political leadership to continue to intervene so that all places of worship and religious heritage in Cyprus are respected, permission is granted for their restoration and the right to worship is respected.

“Today’s meeting of religious leaders coincides with the International Day for Tolerance. The leaders’ commitment to work together for human rights, peace and reconciliation is nothing less than a testament to the spirit of this particular day, namely the universal values of mutual respect and tolerance. I am impressed by their courage and leadership in this regard and hope it can be an inspiration to others”, said Ambassador Olsson Vrang.

Prior to their meeting, the religious leaders jointly visited the Green Line together with UN SRSG Elizabeth Spehar, Head of UNFICYP and Ambassador Olsson Vrang.

They welcomed the visit and reiterated their appreciation for the UN SRSG’s interest in and support for their joint peacebuilding efforts. The visit provided an opportunity for them to see the historic churches of St Jacob and St George, among others. The religious leaders expressed their dismay with the tragic state of the two churches and the lack of urgent action for their reinforcement despite their joint efforts under the auspices of the Embassy of Sweden. (CNA)

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