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  • Fr. Panagiotes Carras
    ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH WELCOMES POPE S VISIT TO GREECE Published by the Athens News Agency, March 22, 2001 ISTANBUL, March 22, 2001 (ANA) -- Ecumenical Patriarch
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31 7:08 AM
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      Published by the Athens News Agency, March 22, 2001

      ISTANBUL, March 22, 2001 (ANA) -- Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos
      welcomed the upcoming visit by Pope John Paul II to Greece in early May,
      stressing that he hopes the elderly pontiffs pilgrimage will contribute
      to "a climate of unity, brotherhood and love."

      Vartholomeos spoke from the southern Italian region of Calabria, which
      still hosts a noteworthy Greek-speaking community in lands known during
      antiquity as "Magna Graecia", after accepting an invitation by the
      regional government of Calabria, the council of Roman Catholic bishops
      and the Orthodox Metropolis of Italy.

      John Paul II will visit Greece on May 4 and 5 at a time when the
      Patriarch will also be in the predominately Eastern Orthodox country in
      the northeastern Greek city of Xanthi between May 2-3 and nearby Serres
      from May 5-6.

      The Autocephalus Church of Greeces influential Holy Synod last week
      acquiesced to a pilgrimage by John Paul II the first-ever by a pontiff
      to the modern Greek state and the first by a Roman Catholic pope in
      Greece proper for more than 1,200 years.

      Published by Zenit, March 21, 2001

      ROME, March 21, 2001 (Zenit) -- The patriarch of Constantinople is
      receiving a warm welcome in Italy's southern region of Calabria, during
      a visit which officials said could help overcome the 1,000-year schism
      between Rome and the East.

      Patriarch Bartholomew I received honors befitting a head of state as he
      toured Calabria. The patriarch's visit, which began Monday, will
      culminate Thursday in an ecumenical prayer meeting that is part of the
      events of the fourth congress of the local Catholic Churches of Sicily.

      "I am happy to be able to visit this land, a crossroads between the
      Western and Eastern world," the patriarch said. As "primus inter pares"
      among Orthodox bishops, the patriarch is a symbol of the communion of
      the Orthodox Churches. "I think this visit will be a contribution to a
      new rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox," he added.

      The Catholic Church described the patriarch's visit as "a historic
      event," to quote Archbishop Antonio Cantisani of Catanzaro, president of
      the bishops' conference of Calabria. This was the first time that the
      most important leader of the Orthodox Christian world set foot in this
      region, which at one time was part of the Eastern Roman Empire.

      Bartholomew I spoke in perfect Italian, a language he learned when he
      studied canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome. No sooner he was
      named ecumenical patriarch in 1991, he established the Greek Orthodox
      Archdiocese of Italy, in the hope of revivifying the Orthodox presence
      in the West.

      The patriarch of Constantinople has jurisdiction over a few thousand
      Orthodox Christians, a flock spread primarily over what today is Muslim
      Turkey. The fact that the community is small, gives the patriarch more
      time and freedom to assume an international role and, in particular, to
      gather the Orthodox of the diaspora around the patriarchate.

      This was the purpose of the patriarch's visit to Italy. It presupposes
      the "culmination of a long period of rediscovery of the Greek-Orthodox
      roots in this region," said Archimandrite Nilos Vatopedino, vicar
      general for the Calabrias of the Italian Orthodox Archdiocese.

      The Catholic Church has supported the Orthodox who live in these
      European Catholic countries. The Pope has just given the patriarch a
      church in Rome so that his faithful can have a place of meeting. Some
      currents of the different Orthodox Churches, however, deny Catholics the
      right to evangelize in Orthodox lands.
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