DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     September 8, 1999     vol. 10, no. 170

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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GREEK GOVERNMENT INVITES POPE IN SPITE OF ORTHODOX OBJECTIONS

John Paul II Wants to Visit Athens to Follow Footsteps of St. Paul

        THESSALONIKI, GREECE, SEP 6 (ZENIT).- Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced Sunday that John Paul II is welcome to visit Greece, despite objections raised by some Orthodox circles. In his letter on a proposed pilgrimage to the holy places of Christianity, the Holy Father had mentioned Athens as a desired stop. If he goes, it would be the first visit ever of a Pope to Greece. "The Pope is a head of state; he is welcome here as are all heads of state," Simitis said.

        Today, Greek Orthodox leaders are meeting to discuss the proposal. They say that the Holy Father must receive the invitation of the Holy Synod and its primate Archbishop Christodoulos if he wants to be received as a religious leader. Given the opposition among conservatives, an invitation seems unlikely, though the Pope did visit Orthodox Romania earlier this year.

        Archbishop Chirstodoulos' spokesman, Theoklitos Koumarianos stated, "The Pope can come here as a visitor. This does not mean we have to welcome him as the head of a church." The Greek clergy has long been suspicious that Rome is trying to spread its influence eastward.

        Archbishop Christodoulos met with Cardinal Edward Cassidy on Sunday to discuss the visit, which would promote a pan-Christian encounter during the Jubilee. There are an estimated 50,000 Greek Catholics in the overwhelmingly Orthodox country, mostly living on the islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. ZE99090621


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September 8, 1999       volume 10, no. 170
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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