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Vatican to build Cyprus embassy

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The Cabinet has approved the leasing of state property in Nicosia’s Aglandjia area to construct a Vatican City State embassy.

Deputy Government Spokesperson Niovi Parissinos said the Vatican’s administration would build the embassy within five years from signing the lease contract and obtaining all necessary permits by the authorities.

The decision comes days before Pope Francis makes his first visit to Cyprus on 2 December.

His trip will focus on migration, Catholic-Orthodox relations and promoting peace in a region known more for its vacation spots than its ongoing political tensions.

Pope Francis will visit Nicosia between 2-4 December and Athens and Lesbos from 4-6 December.

The pope had made a one-day visit to migrant and refugee camps on the Greek island of Lesbos in 2016, but this will be his first visit to the Greek mainland.

While migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean and landing in Italy, Spain, Greece, and even Malta make headlines, significant numbers end up in Cyprus.

As of 31 October, according to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, 464 migrants had reached Malta since 1 January, while 1,515 had reached Cyprus.

Lasting peace, a true sense of kinship and greater Christian-Muslim dialogue are expected to be topics during the pope’s visit to Cyprus.

The theme for the pope’s visit to Cyprus is: “Comforting each other in faith,” highlighting the importance of comforting and encouraging one another, which are “essential dimensions for dialogue, encounter and welcome and are salient characteristics of the life and history of the island,” the Vatican press office said.

The theme for the pope’s visit to Greece is: “May we be increasingly open to God’s surprises,” a quote from the pope himself.

Explaining the theme, the Vatican press office said, “As Greece feels the effects of the pandemic and the recent financial crisis, the motto expresses the hope that the pope’s visit will bring a ray of light for the future of Greece, a country of deeply rooted faith and an illustrious past.”