The Associated Press
Published: Friday, November 3, 2006
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -
A statement by the Church of Greece's governing body, the Holy Synod, said the Dec. 14 visit by Archbishop Christodoulos follows an invitation by the pope.
"The Holy Synod expressed its joy that this visit will be carried out," the Synod said. "Its fruits will be positive."
It will be the first official visit by a Greek church leader to the Vatican, with which the eastern Orthodox church - of which the Church of Greece is a part - split in the acrimonious Schism of 1054.
The program of the visit, during which the pope will present the archbishop with an important Christian relic - a section of the chain of Saint Peter - will be settled with the Vatican, the statement said.
Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, had invited Christodoulos to the Vatican during his visit to Athens in 2001 - the first ever by a pope since the schism. But the return visit was postponed after senior Greek church officials expressed fears it might anger Greek Orthodox zealots who oppose any improvement in ties with the Catholic church.
The church wields considerable power in Greece, where some 98 percent of the 11 million population is baptized into the Church of Greece.
Although Christodoulos traveled to the Vatican for John Paul's funeral last April, that was not rated an official visit.
At the end of this month, Benedict is due to meet with the leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, at his headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey.
ΥΓ. ΜΟΝΟ ΜΗΝ ΚΑΝΕΙ ΤΟ ΑΣΤΕΙΟ Ο ΒΕΝΕΔΙΚΤΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΣΗΚΩΘΕΙ ΑΠΟ ΤΟΝ ΠΑΠΙΚΟ ΘΡΟΝΟ, ΓΙΑΤΙ ΕΤΣΙ ΚΑΙ ΚΑΤΣΕΙ Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΔΟΥΛΟΣ, ΠΟΙΟΣ ΤΟΝ ΣΗΚΩΝΕΙ!!!!