Orthodox Christian Leader Visits America

( [email protected] ) Mar 15, 2004 09:10 AM EST

TRENTON, N.J. – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians from Turkey, made his fifth U.S. visit on Saturday, arriving in Westfield, New Jersey. During his weeklong visit, he will meet with Orthodox communities in New Jersey, and with political and religious leaders in New York.

Officials from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America hope the visit will help ease tensions between the Istanbul-based governing council and members of the U.S. Greek Orthodox church, who have been pushing for self-rule.

According to Associated Press, prominent American parishioners filed suit asking the New York State Supreme Court last month to require that the archdiocese obey its own governing charter. The lawsuit says the Greek hierarchy imposed a rewritten charter last year without approval from delegates at a national Clergy-Laity Congress, as required.