2005.05.29 AP: Orthodox official praises pope's unity call, says action
(Undated-AP) May 29, 2005 - A top Russian Orthodox Church official is
praising Pope Benedict's call for unity but is also expressing caution.
The official, Father Vsevolod Chaplin, says the pope's _expression of
commitment should be followed by concrete actions. He adds the Russian
church is "thankful" for the pope's call for closer ties with Orthodox
Christians and hopes it "will be followed by real steps" to bring the
But he warns of differences that cannot be solved easily or quickly, citing
a disagreement over whether the Christian world should have a single center.
During his first papal trip to the eastern Italian city of Bari Sunday,
Pope Benedict pledged to make healing the 1,000-year-old rift with the
Orthodox church a "fundamental" commitment of his papacy.
Posted 4:30pm by Chantelle Janelle
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2005.05.30 RIAN: RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OPEN FOR DIALOGUE WITH VATICAN -
MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Orthodox Church is open for
dialogue with the Vatican, Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia
said on Monday. "We are open for dialogue, for overcoming difficulties
which hamper our cooperation and for improving relations between the Roman
Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches," Alexis II said.
We should start a dialogue, he added.
The patriarch expressed hope that "the new Pope will open dialogue with
Orthodox Churches" as he had stated recently. "We hail such statements,"
Alexis II said.
"We should overcome difficulties hampering our dialogue and cooperation,"
© 2005 "RIA Novosti"
2005.05.30 IHT: Pope seeks closer ties with other churches
Pope seeks closer ties with other churches
By Ian Fisher The New York Times
MONDAY, MAY 30, 2005
BARI, Italy Pope Benedict XVI made his first official trip on Sunday,
pledging at a huge outdoor mass in this seaside city to work toward
reuniting the long-torn branches of the Roman and Orthodox churches.
"I would like to confirm my willingness to assume as a fundamental
commitment the work to reconstitute the full and visible unity of all the
followers of Christ, with all my energy," Benedict said in his homily to a
crowd estimated at 200,000 people. "How can we communicate with the Lord if
we don't communicate among ourselves?"
Closer ties with the Orthodox, which split from the Roman church a
millennium ago, was an unfinished goal of Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II.
In the nearly six weeks since he was elected pope, Benedict has said
several times that he wants to continue toward better relations with the
Orthodox church, and he reaffirmed this point from a place that is full of
symbolic importance: Bari, which is often considered a bridge between the
western and eastern churches, is the home of relics from St. Nicholas, a
fourth-century bishop who is venerated by both churches.
The pope made his first official trip outside Rome after the end of a
weeklong meeting of Italian bishops to discuss the sacrament of the Eucharist.
The meeting has received much coverage in the Italian press, in part
because Italian church officials have been weighing in on a contentious
political issue in Italy. A referendum will be held next month on voiding
parts of a new law that restricts medically-assisted fertility treatment.
The bishops have taken a strong stand to keep in place the law, which is
the most restrictive in Europe and which defines human life as beginning at
conception. Benedict has not made public his own opinion.
Church business and politics aside, many of the faithful in Bari seemed
eager to get an up-close glimpse of Benedict and an idea of the kind of
pope he will be.
While Benedict is more shy and less comfortable in the spotlight than was
his predecessor, there were many similarities between the events Sunday and
those John Paul had favored: the cheering crowds; images of Benedict on
flags and posters (though vendors still sold T-shirts and pennants with the
face of John Paul); a lap through the crowd in a white armored popemobile,
with Benedict smiling and waving to the faithful.
"In the beginning I though he was too hard," said Marina Veccara, 23, a
student from near Bari, echoing a common concern among Catholics. For 24
years Benedict was the enforcer of church doctrine.
But Veccara said she liked his manner and his appeals to young people like
herself. "Now I think he is a good person."
Unlike John Paul, who reveled in crowds and would often stay at such events
for a day or longer, Benedict arrived by helicopter before Sunday mass and
returned to the Vatican a bit more than three hours later.
On its way back to Rome, the helicopter descended toward Duronia, a town
near Bari, and Benedict gave a hovering blessing to a crowd gathered on a
soccer field, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
The pilot of the helicopter was from the town.
In his homily, Benedict also touched on one of his frequent themes: the
difficulty of being a Christian in the modern world.
"It is not easy for us to live as Christians," he said. "From a spiritual
point of view, the world in which we live, so often marked by runaway
consumerism, religious indifference and by a secularism closed to
transcendence, can seem like a desert."
Benedict is not expected to travel as much as had John Paul. His next trip
will take him back to his home country, Germany, for World Youth Day in August.
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