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Christodoulos, Pope Sign Declaration at Historic Meeting

December 15, 2006

For full story, visit Zenit.

A first visit of an Orthodox archbishop of Athens and All Greece to a Pope at the Vatican marked an important step in overcoming the division between Orthodox and Catholics.

Today’s historic meeting between Archbishop Christodoulos and Benedict XVI ended with the signing of a joint declaration by the two religious leaders to reaffirm the collaboration of Orthodox and Catholics, particularly in the defense of life and the recovery of Europe’s Christian roots.

This was not the Greek archbishop’s first visit to the Vatican, though it was his first to the Pope. Archbishop Christodoulos had met Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then dean of the College of Cardinals, on the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s funeral on
April 8, 2005.

“Catholics and Orthodox are called to offer their cultural and, above all, their spiritual contribution,” the Holy Father said. “They have the duty to defend the Christian roots of the Continent, which have forged it in the course of the centuries, and thus allow Christian tradition to continue manifesting itself and operating with all its forces to safeguard the dignity of the human person, respect of minorities, being careful to avoid a cultural uniformity that would run the risk of losing immense riches of civilization.”

In his speech, Archbishop Christodoulos addressed virtually the same topics raised by the Pope.

“We come,” the Orthodox leader said, “to visit the eminent theologian and university professor, the assiduous researcher of ancient Greek thought and of the Greek
Fathers of the East; but also the visionary of Christian unity and cooperation
of religions to ensure the peace of the whole world.

I have heard and read many commentators and clergy who say that they think we will be surprised by the results of Pope Benedict’s efforts in Orthodox-Catholic relationships in the near future. We pray that this will be true!

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