"He is a ´Uniate,´ we do not want him," radical Orthodox sectors were quoted as saying by the Vatican news agency Fides.
"If he comes to Athens, Archbishop Christodoulos, Orthodox primate of Greece, should not be present at the meeting with John Paul II," they said. Until last year, the cardinal was Syriac patriarch of Antioch.
Catholic theologian Yannis Spiteris, of Greek origin and a professor of Orthodox theology, told Fides: "The phenomenon of the ´Uniates´ is an open wound for the Greek Orthodox Church. Catholics incorporated in the past in the Orthodox Church -- as happened in Eastern Europe under Communism -- who later returned to the Catholic Church, are called ´Uniates.´ Their return is regarded as a betrayal and the fruit of Catholic proselytism."
Much to its chagrin, the Orthodox Church has had to accept the visit of John Paul II on Friday and Saturday. The Pope will go to Athens at the invitation of Greek President Constantinos Stephanopoulos. However, Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens will not speak at the welcoming ceremony for the Pope, and he has turned down an invitation to dine at the nunciature in Athens.