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Pope praised for healing Greek visit

Pope John Paul II celebrated mass for 15,000 Greek Catholics on Saturday, the second day of his ground-breaking visit to Greece in which he has sought to heal a 1000-year rift with the Orthodox church.

The Holy Father was greeted by a roar of cheers as he entered Olympic complex for the mass.

Greece has a Catholic minority of 60,000, out of a population of 10 million which is 98 percent Orthodox.

The Greek press gave a warm reception for Friday's sensational papal plea for Orthodox believers to forgive the errors of the Catholic church.

The pope in particular apologised for the brutal sacking of Constantinople, the former Christian capital which is better known as Istanbul, by Crusaders from Europe in 1204.

The plea dominated the front pages of Saturday's press.

"Historic apology from the pope," headlined the conservative Eleftheros Typos.

"Twelve centuries of ice broken," was how the liberal Kathimerini termed the apology, while the left-wing Elefterotypia said the "road is now open for unity between the two churches.