Greece Visit Opens New Perspective, Aide Says

Interview with Spokesman of Archbishop Christodoulos

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ATHENS, Greece, MAY 6, 2001 (ZENIT.orgAVVENIRE).- John Paul II´s request for God´s forgiveness for Catholics´ sins against the Orthodox is «very important for us,» says the spokesman for the Greek Orthodox primate.

After his meeting with the Pope on Friday, Archbishop Christodoulos, primate of the Greek Orthodox, said: «The Pope has been very kind to us and we are happy.»

Later, in an interview, his spokesman Haris Konidaris continued that positive assessment of the papal visit. Konidaris was also one of the behind-the-scenes negotiators who prepared John Paul II´s visit to Greece.

–Q: What did you think of John Paul II´s address to the primate of Greece?

–Konidaris: It was exactly what we expected. The fact that he asked for God´s forgiveness, for Catholics who have sinned against Orthodox brothers, is very important for us.

What he did before the Lord is significant, because this really calls for Christian charity. An act that is even more important, if one considers that it has not been done in just any place, but in the see of the primate of Greece.

–Q: Can the dialogue between Greek Orthodoxy and the Catholic Church be renewed?

–Konidaris: The dialogue has existed for many years, but John Paul II´s visit opens a new perspective. With his address, the Pope has removed heavy burdens from the way, which impeded going forward. Of course, differences and problems remain, but now there is the common conviction that solutions can be reached.

–Q: John Paul II did not mention the question of the «Uniates» [the name used by the Orthodox to express contempt for Eastern-rite Christians who left the Orthodox Church to recognize papal authority].

–Konidaris: It´s true, but let´s give time [some] time. When I spoke earlier about the problems that are still under discussion, I was referring especially to the question of the Uniates. In any case, the Pope spoke explicitly of wounds that cause sufferings to the Greek people. This was the recognition we wanted.

–Q: Christodoulos went to Moscow on Saturday to meet with Alexy II. Will he open the way for a papal trip?

–Konidaris: The Pope´s visit to Moscow is a decision that belongs to the Russian Church, and the Greek Church has not voice in the matter. If Patriarch Alexy wants a report on the outcome of the Pope´s visit to Athens, I think His Beatitude Christodoulos will express his own opinion and refer to facts.

–Q: Namely?

–Konidaris: The Pope of Rome has taken an important step in relations with us, and the Greek Church has shown courage and readiness to receive him.

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