Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Pays Tribute to John Paul II

BUCHAREST, Romania, SEPT. 3, 2003 ( Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist of Romania paid tribute to John Paul II for his 25 years of pontificate and said the Pope has pronounced words the Orthodox «have been awaiting for centuries.»

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Teoctist was addressing a conference organized here Tuesday by the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry, to celebrate the Holy Father’s jubilee and recall his 1999 visit to Romania, the first by a Pope to an Orthodox country.

Recalling that meeting, the patriarch said: «All our successors will see it as something prophetic.»

The celebration, transmitted live on national television, was also attended by Romanian President Ion Iliescu. He said the experience of these 25 years has shown that «the force of love is able to uproot the most terrible totalitarian system.»

This is the «message the Pope hands to history,» together with the «relentless search for unity,» added Catholic Archbishop Ioan Robu of Bucharest.

For his part, Cardinal Pio Laghi highlighted Romania’s role as a «bridge» between the East and West, especially with the 1999 papal visit.

Following celebrations in Krakow, Buenos Aires, Strasbourg, and Bucharest, the next venues of this cycle in honor of John Paul II will be New York, Jerusalem, Rome and Sao Paulo.

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