Orthodox Frown on "Foreign Religions"

ATHENS, Greece, MAY 3, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The possible protests against John Paul II´s visit to Greece this Friday and Saturday would be only the latest sign of the 1,000-year-old separation that has divided Eastern and Western Christians.

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“Unfortunately, here in Greece there are no official relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox,” Catholic Archbishop Nikolaos Foscolos of Athens told Vatican Radio. “The latter regards itself virtually as the sole religion of the state.”

The Pope, who is retracing the steps of St. Paul the Apostle, hopes to foster dialogue with the Orthodox.

“For the Orthodox Church,” Archbishop Foscolos said, “all other confessions and religions are considered ´xenia dogmata,´ namely, ´foreign religions.´ The Orthodox Church is regarded as the only religion of the country. Unfortunately, therefore, there is neither ecumenical dialogue nor relations at the official level. There are relations at the personal level, but they are not very developed.”

He added: “I hope that, despite this opposition on the part of fundamentalists and conservatives among our Orthodox brothers, something good will still come from this visit, either at the national level, or in regard to relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church generally.”

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