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Orthodox Pope Eager to Meet With Roman Pope - 1,000 years of disagreement healed?

 
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01/06/2006 06:24 PM
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Orthodox Pope Eager to Meet With Roman Pope - 1,000 years of disagreement healed?
Orthodox Leader to Meet With Pope
Bartholomew says Benedict will visit him in Turkey sometime this year.

By MITCH STACY
The Associated Press

TARPON SPRINGS -- 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 the 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 99 percent 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.

The Rev. Ronald Roberson, associate director of the secretariat for ecumenical and interreligious affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said many people are waiting to see if the new pope will continue the efforts of his predecessor, John Paul II, to repair relations with the Orthodox church. Thus, a visit to Turkey would be significant.

"I think Benedict and Bartholomew are committed to getting it going again," Roberson said.

Pope John Paul II was praised by Greek religious and political leaders for his efforts to ease the division between the churches. John Paul II 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 with an exchange of anathemas -- or damnations -- between the Vatican and the patriarch of Constantinople, now Istanbul, and still the spiritual center of Orthodoxy.

The collapse of the Soviet Bloc added to the tensions as both Roman Catholics and Orthodox churches tried to reassert their spiritual roles across Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

The status of Eastern Rite Catholics in former Soviet-bloc states was the primary issue that kept officials of the two churches apart when they met in the United States in 2000 for the last official International Theological Dialogue, Archbishop Demetrios said.

In Tarpon Springs, Bartholomew will preside over this community's 100th celebration of the Epiphany, which for Orthodoxy marks the baptism of Jesus at the River Jordan. About 80,000 are expected to descend on the small town for the Orthodox ceremonies and celebration of Greek culture, including the "Dive for the Cross" in which 56 teenage boys will try to be first to retrieve a wooden cross from the bottom of Spring Bayou.

It's grown to be the largest Orthodox Epiphany ceremony in North America and is overshadowed only by the world's largest in Piraeus, Greece.
Anonymous Coward
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01/07/2006 02:31 AM
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Re: Orthodox Pope Eager to Meet With Roman Pope - 1,000 years of disagreement healed?
I quit the RC church ages ago, but the Greek one sounds pretty good [link to en.wikipedia.org]

I hope they don't get too close to the RC. That would be a big mistake.
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01/07/2006 02:53 AM
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Re: Orthodox Pope Eager to Meet With Roman Pope - 1,000 years of disagreement healed?
There are TWO POPES?
Anonymous Coward
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01/07/2006 03:00 AM
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Re: Orthodox Pope Eager to Meet With Roman Pope - 1,000 years of disagreement healed?
More than two.

There are the Roman, Ethiopian, Coptic, and Orthodox churches.

These churches are more than 1000 years old.

There's also the Russian Orthodox church, which was a late-comer. It began in 988.

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