Vatican Delegation in Athens to Reciprocate for Orthodox Trip

Another Step Forward in Relations Between Churches

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2003 ( A Vatican delegation’s visit to Athens is but one more step in intensified collaboration between the Holy See and the Orthodox churches.

His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens, invited the Pope to send a Holy See delegation to return the visit — described as «historic» — that a delegation of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church made to Rome last March. The Vatican group began its visit Monday.

Last March, the head of the Orthodox delegation, Metropolitan Panteleimon, said to the Pope in his message of greeting that 10 centuries of separation between Rome and the East were «characterized by many errors and sufferings.» The Eastern churches’ split from Rome dates to 1054.

The exchange of delegations is a result of the papal trip to Greece in May 2001, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity explained in a statement.

It is an endeavor to establish and develop joint ways of collaboration and witness on issues such as peace, justice, human rights, the sacred character of life, the protection of creation, and current problems of Europe.

Led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the pontifical council, the Vatican delegation also includes Bishop Brian Farrell and Monsignor Johan Bonny, secretary and official, respectively, of the Eastern section of the council, and by Archbishop Paul Fouad Tabet, the apostolic nuncio in Greece.

The framework of these exchanges was defined in the Joint Declaration signed by John Paul II and Archbishop Christodoulos on May 4, 2001.

The text expressed satisfaction over the European Union’s progress but warned about «the rising tendency to transform some European countries into secularized states with no reference whatsoever to religion.»

Seeing that trend as a denial of Europe’s spiritual heritage, the declaration stressed the need «to intensify our efforts so that the unification of Europe will be completed» and to «do everything possible so that the roots and Christian soul of Europe will be integrally preserved.»

The Vatican delegation is participating in a program similar to that of the Greek Orthodox delegation during its Rome visit.

In particular, meetings will be held with Archbishop Christodoulos and members of the Holy Synod, in addition to the synod’s commissions for European affairs, inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian relations, education, and social development.

The cultural aspects of the Vatican delegation’s trip include visits to educational centers and to Apostoliki Diakonia, the Greek Orthodox Church’s publishing office.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation