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Orthodox patriarch eyes unity in visit with pope



May 09, 2014 - ‎The spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians, says a meeting with Pope Francis in Jerusalem later this month will help move the two churches closer to ending their nearly 1,000-year divide. In an interview with The Associated Press in his Istanbul office, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Istanbul noted that although the road to unity remains long, Pope Francis's acceptance of the invitation to meet in Jerusalem ‎demonstrates that both leaders want to end the divide.‎ The meetings between the ecumenical patriarch and the leader of the world's Roman Catholics, May 25-26, will commemorate the historic visit of their predecessors 50 years ago that launched a dialogue aimed at ending the great split or schism in Christianity of 1054, that resulted in Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.
The historic 1964 meeting between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem was the first encounter between a pope and Orthodox patriarch in more than 500 years, and resulted in the withdrawal of mutual excommunication and the establishment of a Catholic-Orthodox Joint Declaration in 1965 that called for greater harmony. ``We shall say through our meeting and our prayer that it is the intention of both of us to work further for Christian unity and reconciliation,'' Patriarch Bartholomew said. Although the Orthodox and Catholic churches remain estranged on key issues, including married clergy and the centralized power of the Vatican, there have been moves toward closer understanding, starting with the 1964 meeting. Talking about union between the two Churches, Patriarch Bartholomew said, “When it will take place, we don't know; how it will take place, we don't know. Only God knows.'' The two leaders will celebrate Mass together at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the faithful believe Jesus was crucified and buried, and issue another declaration. Bartholomew said it had not been finalized. (Source: AP)




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