Greek Orthodox primate planning trip to Rome Jun. 09 (CWNews.com) - Greek Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens has announced that he is preparing
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, Jun 10, 2006
Greek Orthodox primate planning trip to Rome
Jun. 09 (CWNews.com) - Greek Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens has announced that he is preparing for a visit to Rome and a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news).
The Greek Orthodox primate announced his plans on June 9, during a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice, who was visiting Greece on a pilgrimage. Archbishop Christodoulos said that his trip to Rome-- an exchange visit, after the trip to
Greece by Pope John Paul II (bio - news) four years ago-- would underline "the importance that all Christian churches unite their strengths and act together to overcome the divisions that are a scandal in the eyes of the world."
Archbishop Christodoulos had announced in February that he would make the trip to Rome this year, in response to an invitation issued by Pope Benedict last fall.
Cardinal Scola, who met with the Greek prelate along with 50 pilgrims from Venice, said that the meeting took place in "a climate of great friendship and cordiality." He reported that Archbishop Christodoulos had chosen to greet his guests informally, rather than sitting on his throne for the reception. The Italian cardinal echoed the Greek archbishop's call for "commitment and prayer for the unity of Christians, so that we can
bear common witness to the Gospel, to Europe and the world." No date has yet been announced for the Greek prelate's visit to Rome. Ecumenical protocol requires the Pope to meet first with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. That meeting is now arranged for November, suggesting that the visit to Rome by Christodoulos would not take place until December 2006, if not later.
Archbishop Christodoulos had indicated a willingness to visit Rome nearly two years ago, but in November 2004 the Greek Orthodox Synod voted against the trip. Pope Benedict renewed the Vatican invitation in October 2005, and early this year the Orthodox Synod gave its approval.
Relations between the Holy See and the Greek Orthodox Church, traditionally marked by tensions and hostilities, have improved markedly since May 2001, when Pope John Paul traveled to Athens and asked pardon for past offenses by Catholics against the Orthodox, particularly including the sack of
Constantinople in 1204.
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