Pope may offer refugees a home during visit

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Pope Francis has expressed his intention to Cypriot authorities to offer asylum seekers on the island refuge in the Vatican during his landmark official visit on 2 December, according to Deutsche Welle.

In 2016, the leader of the Catholic Church offered asylum to Syrian refugees living in a camp on Lesvos, taking them with him back to the Vatican from Greece.

Deutsche Welle said his intention was discussed between the delegations of Cyprus and the Vatican. In preparation for the visit, the Cypriot Interior Ministry is already taking the necessary steps.

Pope Francis will be visiting Cyprus on 2 December.

In a statement, the government said Pope Francis’ visit to Cyprus constitutes a “historic event”.

The visit will take place from 2 to 4 December. It is the second time that a leader of the Roman Catholic Church will visit Cyprus.

President Nicos Anastasiades will brief Pope Francis on the Cyprus issue and “Turkey’s recent provocations”.

“The efforts made and Turkish provocations hinder the initiatives taken by the UN.

“The Republic of Cyprus seeks to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, a solution that respects UN Security Council Resolutions,” the statement said.

The President is also expected to inform the Pope about the humanitarian issue of missing persons, the protection of cultural heritage and the efforts made to promote the interreligious dialogue.

The migration/refugee issue, tackling climate change and issues relating to human rights will also be discussed.

The Pope’s official welcome ceremony will take place at the Presidential Palace on 2 December.

He will also visit Archbishop Chrysostomos II and meet leaders of the Catholic church in Cyprus.

On 3 December, he will address a Holy Mass at the GSP Stadium, Nicosia.

During Pope Francis’ trip to Cyprus, he will meet refugees and asylum seekers in Nicosia. An Ecumenical prayer will follow at the Catholic Church of the Holy Cross.

Cyprus receives the largest number of first-time asylum seekers – per population than any other EU country.

The largest number of irregular migrants arriving in Cyprus come from Turkey through the occupied areas.

Pope Francis will depart Cyprus on 4 December for Greece.