The Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, recently visited the small Maronite Catholic community on the island of Cyprus, the population of which is mostly Greek Orthodox.

During a Mass on the Solemnity of St. Maron on 7 February, he spoke about the desire of the Maronite community “to be recognized as a national, and not only religious, minority” in a possible unitary and federal state entity which might evolve in the future if the island – currently partitioned between the internationally recognized government, and the Turkish-occupied north – achieve unification.

“In order to remain a bridge between peoples, Cyprus cannot allow itself to maintain walls, barriers and divisions,” Cardinal Sandri said. “To live without them, however, it is necessary above all, as Pope Francis often repeats, especially during this Jubilee of Mercy, to disarm one’s heart and dispose oneself to pardon and reconciliation.”

He also spoke about the situation in Lebanon, which has been without a president, who must be a Maronite Christian, since May 2014.

“This is something for which the people have already awaited for too long, something of which they have need, as does the region for purposes of equilibrium,” he said.