VATICAN CITY, NOV. 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that a “new stage” has been reached in the path of reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Greece.
In a message to the archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, the Pope invites Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens to the Vatican. He also appeals to Catholics and Orthodox to work together on the new challenges posed to the proclamation of Christ to the contemporary world, “which so needs it.”
The Holy Father sent his message to Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, on the occasion of the publication of the facsimile of the manuscript of the “Menologion of Basil II.” The Vatican Library collaborated with the Orthodox Church of Greece on the project.
The “Menologion of Basil II,” a liturgical and hagiographic text of the Church of Greek rite composed around 985, is a masterpiece of Byzantine art. The manuscript of it is kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library.
The papal message was read Wednesday during the presentation of the Menologion in Athens’ Byzantine Museum.
The Holy Father expressed his “satisfaction” with this achievement, which, he said, is the “fruit of the new relations that have been interwoven after the unforgettable visit of my venerated predecessor, His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Athens, on the occasion of his jubilee pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Paul,” in May 2001.
On that occasion, John Paul II asked for forgiveness for the offenses committed by Catholics against the Orthodox in the course of history.
“It makes me profoundly happy to see that an ever more active cooperation is developing between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Greece,” said Benedict XVI in his message.
The Pontiff requested the French cardinal, a former Vatican secretary for relations with states, “to transmit to His Beatitude Christodoulos the joy it would give me to welcome him in Rome to manifest together that a new stage has been reached in the path of reconciliation and cooperation.”
John Paul II invited Archbishop Christodoulos to visit Rome in 2004, but the trip could not be undertaken given the opposition of a good part of the Greek Orthodox Synod.
Benedict XVI told Cardinal Tauran in his message: “Attest to my heartfelt desire to develop with ever more intensity relations of trust and fraternity between us to work together in the numerous challenges of evangelization.”
In particular, the Pope said that they could “with greater force help European nations to reaffirm their Christian roots to again find the sap that nourishes and fertilizes the future itself for the good of persons and of the whole of society.”
“It will be a way of proclaiming together the Good News of Christ to the contemporary world, which so needs it,” the Holy Father stated.
In the message, the Pope also requested Cardinal Tauran to transmit his greetings to the president of the Greek republic, Karolos Papoulias, a country in which there is no Church-state separation, and to the Catholic bishops.
About 98% of Greece’s 10.6 million inhabitants are Orthodox.