FAMAGUSTA (Turkish-occupied Cyprus) – Fifty eight years have passed since Cyprus’ Orthodox Christians have been able to hold Good Friday services at the Church of St. George Exorinos the city of Famagusta. On April 25, amid weeping and hope that the service is a sign that after 40 years of Turkish occupations the island nation is about to be re-unified, worshippers and their Turkish Cypriot friends and neighbors to mark the most solemn day on the ecclesiastical year.
The Greek Cypriot mayor-in-exile of the Alexis Galanos of the town that was the island premier resort, helped to organize the event along with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Oktay Kayalp. 4,000 people were expect to be present at the service.
Following the illegal Turkish invasion in 1974, Famagusta became a ghost town. There has been a movement, strongly promoted by the Republic of Cyprus and supported by the United States, to return it to its legal inhabitants as a confidence-building measure that will help move peace talks forward.
The AP writes: “It’s the first time in nearly 60 years that such a service during Christianity’s holiest week is being held at this 14th century church. Although the island’s conflict has never been about religion, the service is seen as an example of how faith can help mend the island’s ethnic division.