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Pope Benedict Meets with the Head of the Orthodox Church of Greece

Pope Benedict met on Thursday with Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, for talks on relations between the two churches.
( [email protected] ) Dec 14, 2006 01:09 PM EST

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict met on Thursday with Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, for talks on relations between the two churches.

Christodoulos arrived late Wednesday for a four-day visit. It is his first visit to the Vatican since he attended the funeral of Pope John Paul in April 2005.

Relations between Orthodox and Catholic churches have improved significantly in recent years, though they remain divided by long-standing questions of doctrine.

Calls for greater dialogue were strengthened when Benedict visited Turkey Nov. 28-Dec. 1 and met with Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians.

In remarks Wednesday before his departure, Christodoulos referred to "the scandal of the division of Christians" and spoke of a continuing, 25-year "dialogue that has as its aim to break the ice between the churches."

Christodoulos set his visit in a broader perspective, expressing "the need for collaboration of religions, and not only between the Christian churches." World peace "is threatened by the fanaticism of certain persons, on which they put the label of religion," he said.

Archbishop Christodoulos' visit reciprocates Pope John Paul's trip to Athens in 2001.