(June 5, 2010) NICOSIA, Cyprus — 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.
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.
Since the pope landed on Friday for a weekend visit, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, the leader of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus and President Demetris Christofias have denounced the Turkish occupation on several occasions.
The visit is aimed at strengthening ties between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches and calling attention to the fate of Christians in the Middle East.
Visiting an Orthodox church on Saturday, Benedict said that the situation of Christians in the Middle East should be “a source of concern to all of Christ’s followers.”