A day after Cypriot religious and political leaders lashed out at Turkey, whose troops have occupied northern Cyprus since 1974, Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday met briefly with a Muslim religious leader from the Turkish North.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
The pope exchanged greetings for several minutes with the leader, Sheik Mehmet Nazim Adil, 88, a Sufi, outside the Vatican’s embassy to Cyprus.
Benedict, the first pope to visit Cyprus, is not scheduled to visit the northern part of the island.
The murder of the Vatican's representative in Turkey will not affect dialogue with Islam, Pope Benedict XVI said Friday as he travelled to Cyprus for a meeting with Middle Eastern bishops ahead of a synod at the Vatican later this year.
The pope said the death of Msgr Luigi Padovese, stabbed by his Turkish driver Thursday, "must not in any way overshadow the dialogue with Islam".
"One thing is sure, it was not a political or religious assassination".
The driver, 26-year-old Murat Altun, was being treated for psychiatric problems and reportedly told police he had a "Divine revelation" telling him to kill the bishop, according to Turkish media. Padovese, 63, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, was the second Catholic priest to be murdered in Turkey in recent years after Father Andrea Santoro in 2006.
"Naturally I am deeply pained by the death of Msgr Padovese, who also contributed a great deal to the preparation of the synod and would have been a precious element (in the talks in Cyprus)," said the pope, who earlier Friday received a message of condolence from Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
"But we do not want this tragedy to interfere with dialogue with Islam, which will be the theme of my trip".
Referring to the synod in the Vatican on October 10-24, the pope voiced the hope it would boost both dialogue among Christians and "our common capacity for dialogue with Islam".
Muslims "are our brothers, despite our differences," he said.