Pope Meets With Chrysosotomos II

Orthodox Leader Says It Was a "Step Forward" to Unity

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met with representatives from the Orthodox Church in Cyprus, a meeting that may pave the way for an encounter between the Pope and Russian Patriarch Alexy II.



In the Vatican on Saturday, Benedict XVI met with Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, and other representatives of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus.

After this meeting with the Holy Father, Archbishop Chrysostomos II will discuss with Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia the possibility of future collaboration between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, and perhaps a meeting with the Pope.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper L'Expresso, the Orthodox archbishop explained that he and Alexy II are good friends, and that he is doing all he can to foster the meeting.

Joint declaration

Benedict XVI and Archbishop Chrysostomos II also signed a joint agreement promoting collaboration, especially on questions of bioethics.

The document explained: "At a time of growing secularization and relativism, Catholics and Orthodox in Europe are called to offer renewed witness on ethical values, ready to give an explanation of their faith in Jesus Christ, lord and savior.

"There is the risk that certain techniques applied to genetics, conceived intentionally to meet legitimate needs, in fact take away man's dignity, created in the image of God."

The document denounces "tragic daily problems" caused by more than 30 years of the separation of Cyprus caused by Turkish occupation, which began in the summer of 1974, and calls for peace in the Middle East.

Dialogue of truth

In a conversation with journalists, the archbishop said that great strides in reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox could be made with Benedict XVI, because he is a "wise" theologian who knows Orthodox theology in depth.

"We are convinced that he wants the unity of the Churches. And if one knows the problems in detail, as in his case, it is easier to find solutions," Archbishop Chrysostomos II explained.

The Orthodox archbishop noted that 1,000 years of separation cannot be overcome in a day. But, in the last 40 years, he said, "we have begun a dialogue of charity, and now we move on to theological dialogue, which is that of truth."

"It is not easy to resolve problems. We need time," he said. "But dialogue is an important step forward and now we can move on to respond to Jesus' commandment for unity. Each time we meet, we make one more step forward."

The archbishop stated that during their meeting, the Pope confirmed his desire to visit Cyprus, though no date was set.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II concluded, "For us, it will be a great blessing."