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Orthodox Leader Says He Will Meet Pope

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2006.01.05 AP: Orthodox Leader Says He Will Meet Pope By MITCH STACY , 01.05.2006, 05:49 PM The spiritual leader of the world s 200 million-plus Orthodox
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2006
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      2006.01.05 AP:
      Orthodox Leader Says He Will Meet Pope

      By MITCH STACY , 01.05.2006, 05:49 PM

      The spiritual leader of the world's 200 million-plus Orthodox Christians
      said Thursday that he is eager to meet with Pope Benedict XVI sometime in
      the coming year in an effort to heal the long-standing rift between the
      Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.

      Visiting this heavily Greek community northwest of Tampa for the annual
      Feast of the Epiphany celebration, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I told
      reporters that the pope plans an official visit sometime this year to his
      headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey.

      "We are in very good relationships with the present pope, Benedict XVI, and
      I'm in the very happy position to announce to you that we are going to
      restart the dialogue on the international global level between the Orthodox
      church and the Roman Catholic church," Bartholomew said in Greek through an
      interpreter, Archbishop Demetrios, who is primate of the Greek Orthodox
      Church in America.

      The last official talks between two churches five years ago broke off
      without an agreement on theological issues that have divided them for
      almost 1,000 years.

      Bartholomew had received a warm reception from the Vatican after inviting
      the pope to Turkey for the Feast of St. Andrew in November. But they were
      subtly rebuffed when the government of primarily Muslim Turkey, instead of
      approving the visit, issued its own invitation to Benedict for an
      unspecified date in 2006.

      Because Benedict is also the head of state of the Vatican, any visit to
      Turkey would need to be coordinated with the Turkish government.

      Bartholomew said Thursday that "within this year that has already begun,
      the new pope is going to visit officially the ecumenical patriarchy."

      Both the current patriarch and the current pope appear deeply committed to
      bridging the rift between their estranged churches and helping to unite two
      of the largest branches of Christianity.

      "The commitment of the Catholic Church to the search for Christian unity is
      irreversible," the pope said in June.

      Pope John Paul II was praised by Greek religious and political leaders for
      his efforts to ease the division between the churches. John Paul visited
      Greece in 2001, the first pope to do so in nearly 1,300 years, meeting with
      Archbishop Christodoulos, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church.

      Rifts between the two ancient branches of Christianity began as early as
      the fifth century over the rising influence of the papacy and later over
      wording of the creed, or confession of faith. The split was sealed in 1054.
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