Just over a week ago, Pope Benedict returned to the Vatican from his three-day trip to Cyprus. This might be news to some of you. The papal visit was the most under-reported of 2010.
Cynics might theorize that the media yawned because there was no apparent clergy sex abuse angle. Just as likely, the relative silence could be attributed to 'papal visit fatigue'. The Pope's flight to Malta in April was closely followed by a pilgrimage to the Shroud of Turin in May. And then, just two weeks later, he made his highly-publicized journey to Portugal.
Even the Vatican press corps -- veteran reporters who fly on the Pope's plane -- were surely wearied by the schedule. While it's no chore to jet to sun-drenched, seaside destinations, covering an apostolic voyage is no holiday. During just three days in Portugal, for example, Benedict delivered 16 separate addresses.
The Cyprus trip was laden with complex political overtones. Recently, Cypriots have resumed talks
aimed at the eventual reunification of the ethnic Greek and Turkish populations. (At present, the island remains divided by a UN buffer zone.) As a Mediterranean port-of-call, Cyprus was also involved in the deadly confrontation
on the Gaza flotilla. And then, just one day before the Pope arrived, a bishop was murdered
in nearby Turkey. Minority Christians in Turkey fear the attack may have been religiously motivated.
The Holy Father addressed each of those issues in Cyprus. But he was also traveling, as he often does, as a pilgrim. This was, after all, the first time a pontiff had ever visited the island, on whose shores Paul and Barnabas debarked to evangelize some two-thousand year ago.
For those who missed our extensive Cyprus coverage, Fr. Thomas Rosica shared this video reflection about the biblical significance of Cyprus, and how Paul and Barnabas' stormy friendship still speaks to us today.