Friendly meeting between Pope Francis and the Holy Synod of Cyprus
Gestures are especially important during ecumenical visits, and the meeting between Pope Francis and the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, was full of them.
The Pope paid the Orthodox Archbishop a visit at the episcopal palace, which was commissioned in the 1950s by the first president of Cyprus, Makarios III.
Pope Francis kissed the hands of the person sent to welcome him, like he later did with other delegates sent by the Archbishop. Then he walked up the stairs, holding on to the railing for support.
The Archbishop was waiting for him inside, and they exchanged a friendly greeting.
Once inside, they first solved a problem with the interpreters.
“You translate for him and he translates for me.”
They met for about 30 minutes, after which time they both moved to the Orthodox Cathedral for a meeting with the Holy Synod.
The cathedral is simple on the outside, but rich on the inside.
There, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of taking concrete steps toward communion in things like charity and education, and of setting aside past prejudice. The Pope said that this is the path of the Holy Spirit.
"He invites us to not resign ourselves in front of the divisions of the past, and to cultivate together the field of the Kingdom, with patience, assiduity and concreteness."
The Pope also said that it's important to not get attached to superfluous things that create even more division.
He emphasized the importance of being open to new things as long as they don't become an obstacle in one's relationship with God.
"I am not referring to things that are sacred and help us encounter the Lord, but to the risk of absolutizing certain uses and habits that are not essential to live out the faith."
At the end of the meeting, the Orthodox Archbishop gave the Pope this icon of the Virgin Mary as a gift.
Pope Francis, in turn, gave the Archbishop the Codex Pauli, which contains a selection of illustrations and works of art related to St. Paul. It was put together to celebrate 2,000 years since the apostle's birth.