Vatican envoy on 1st visit
NORTH Cyprus’s Catholic community has welcomed the region’s Vatican ambassador, who was visiting the country for the first time. Papal Nuncio of the Holy See for Jerusalem, Palestine and Cyprus Monsignor Leopoldo Girelli led Mass at the Church of St Elizabeth of Hungary in Girne last Friday — aided by Vicar-General of Latin Catholics for Nicosia Father George (Jerzy Kraj) and Everistus John Akaenyi — as part of his week-long visit. Trevor Jones, a chapel volunteer who assisted with Mr Girelli’s visit, told Cyprus Today: “The service went very well and [Mr Girelli] met members of the congregation.
“Many members of the congregation are from the Philippine community who work, and students, so many could not attend as it was a weekday. He promised on his next visit to come on a Sunday.”
Last Thursday Mr Girelli met UN special representative and head of the Unficyp peacekeeping force Elizabeth Spehar at the mission’s headquarters in the capital, and met Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades at a formal ceremony in the South’s Presidential Palace.
During the ceremony, Mr Girelli, appointed last year as the eighth Apostolic Nuncio to the island, conveyed “the respectful and cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Francis” to Mr Anastasiades and “to all people of Cyprus”.
Following his Friday service in Girne, he conducted Holy Eucharist on Sunday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Graces in South Nicosia, in which members of the Maronite community living in Koruçam also took part.
Mr Girelli was appointed by Pope Francis in September last year. He is also titular archbishop of Capri, apostolic nuncio in Singapore, apostolic delegate in Malaysia and Brunei, and non-resident pontifical representative for Vietnam.
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Papal Nuncio for Jerusalem, Palestine and Cyprus
Preparations for the Mass — the Archbishop oversees, aided by Father George (right) and altar boy Everistus John Akaenyi. Right, Monsignor Leopoldo Girelli addresses the congregation. Photos: Brian Joyce