Pope Benedict Visits Cyprus
This week’s visit by Pope Benedict xvi to the divided Middle East isle of Cyprus is the first ever by any pope in the entire history of Roman Catholicism. Unlike his predecessor, Pope John Paul ii, an inveterate traveler, Benedict has visited only 15 countries since his election as pontiff in 2005. What’s behind the pope’s visit to this island nation which is not even a Catholic country but continues to be divided between its Islamist minority north and Greek Orthodox majority south?
Cyprus, an EU member nation, has been pivotal in geopolitics for millennia. It was a crucial crossroads of Greek, Roman and Ottoman imperial power for generations. It continues to be of great importance for a variety of strategic reasons to the European Union as a base for the future projection of European power into the Holy Land, Middle East and Persian Gulf.
This papal visit comes amid a range of sensitive issues including Vatican relations with Orthodox Christianity, Islam and Judaism and the vulnerable state of Christians throughout the Islamic Middle East. In reality it is designed to simply forward the agenda of the Church of Rome and its European pastorate for regional geopolitical reasons attached to the imperialist EU agenda.
Both Rome and Berlin, the main drivers behind the EU expansionist vision, understand the vital geostrategic position of Cyprus as a Christian military outpost and key sea gate within the Islamic Middle East arena.
During this week’s visit, the pope will have highest-profile visits with the president of Cyprus at the presidential palace, with the archbishop of Cyprus at the archbishop’s palace, with civil and diplomatic personnel, and with the Catholic faithful (about 25,000 live in Cyprus), plus open-air masses. Pope Benedict will address a total of 10 audiences across the three-day visit.
Benedict’s visit, an overt visual projection of Catholicism into the Middle East, will also bring together Catholic bishops from the region. The pontiff will present them with a working document ahead of a synod on the church in the Middle East scheduled for October.
Considering the fact of Cyprus being not only a non-Catholic, but a religiously and politically divided nation, Benedict’s visit is a political minefield. Yet this pope has never shunned controversy in his five years on the papal throne. He has made controversial comments on the Protestant churches, claiming they are not true churches, on abortion, birth control, homosexuality and the violent character of Islam. Benedict has most recently rocked the Protestant establishment by setting up a welcoming process for potentially hundreds of thousands of Anglicans worldwide who elect to automatically convert to Catholicism.
This pope now comes to an island torn in two since the 1974 war when the north of the country was ethnically cleansed with the invasion of Islamic Turkey, separating the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots into the south and north respectively.
While many in Cyprus, especially at the official levels, may welcome the papal visit, there is an underlying hostility to the pope from many Cypriots. Some senior clerics, up to the status of bishop, refer to the pope as a heretic and some others believe he is the 666 antichrist. The Limassol bishop has said “the pope would do better not to come because it would provoke Orthodox Christians who view him as a heretic” (Associated Press, May 25). However, the Vatican-friendly archbishop of Cyprus has threatened to punish Orthodox Church clerics who do not participate in a hospitable welcoming of the pope, to the extent of even expelling them from the Cypriot Orthodox Synod for a year. This has likely quelled most of the aggressively obvious objections.
High on Benedict’s agenda is bringing back the wayward daughters of the Catholic Church—Protestant and Orthodox—under Vatican wings. Much effort is being made toward this by the Vatican and leaders in the Orthodox Christian churches. Benedict hopes this visit, along with the mediation of the Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus, will help to set the scene to bring the pope and the new Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (who is more Vatican-friendly than the late Patriarch Alexei) together in continuing efforts to unite these two great flanks of Christendom—the Orthodox East and Roman Christian West.
So this visit by the pope to Cyprus will be watched very closely by Christians, Muslims, Jews, political leaders and the intelligentsia seeking a hint of what his real agenda is for (Roman) Christianity and European geopolitics, particularly for the region of the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
In this context, our editor in chief has identified Islamist Iran as the head of a looming Middle Eastern politico/religious bloc. This bloc of nations, probably including Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Libya, are rich in oil and account for significant oil exports to the world. Iran, soon to be nuclear, gives fanatical inspiration to the Islamist world, and particularly to the Islamist peoples in Arab nations of the region.
This Islamist bloc, as a first step toward furthering Islam’s vision of a worldwide Islamic kingdom, is planning to take Jerusalem into the Islamic fold. At the same time, Iranian-led Islamism threatens to ratchet up its pressure against the West in pursuit of dominance of the whole Middle East and Persian Gulf region as initial steps to ultimately vanquish the Western nations of Europe and North America. Yet this vision is set to soon clash, militarily, with another universalist religio/political vision that has similar, yet opposing goals—the vision of certain elites in Rome and Berlin for a revival of the old Holy Roman Empire.
European elites are gearing for the projection of EU power into the Middle East and Persian Gulf so as to immobilize Iranian-led resistance to this vision and take possession of vital Gulf oil resources. As an EU member nation, Cyprus offers a key forward geostrategic military base and virtual island aircraft carrier for these coming missions. Due to the proximity of Cyprus to the whole Middle East region, European fighter jets can very easily cover much of the region without refueling and just about all of the region with mid-mission air refueling or from local bases or aircraft carriers.
The geostrategic position of Cyprus—located at the crossroads to the Agean and Mediterranean seas and Suez, possessing good sea ports, airports and radar surveillance systems to survey the skies across the Middle East, Persian Gulf and North Africa—makes it a great watching post over all of Middle East Islam. Cyprus is very strategic to any power seeking to ensure that the sea gates of Suez, Bab el Mandab and the Strait of Hormuz remain open to the vital flow of crude oil, other resources and foodstuffs to Europe and for EU exports to flow south to the great markets of Asia.
The Vatican has been progressively honing its geopolitics for 2,000 years, and the present pope has openly admitted that civilizational clash, under pressure from Islamic migration, is already upon Europe. Both Rome and Berlin are acutely aware of the importance of Cyprus to European expansionism in both militarily strategic terms and in religiously symbolic terms. The possession and exploitation of Cyprus’s key strategic location is vital to the elites of both Rome and Berlin in the process of the fulfillment of their grand Holy Roman vision for the eventual unification of Catholic and Orthodox peoples. This they seek to achieve prior to mounting a final crusade into Jerusalem, the ultimate jewel in the imperialist crown of the Holy Roman imperialist vision.