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Pope looks to improve Orthodox ties

Pope John Paul II proposed on Saturday that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches should create a joint institution to try to improve relations and help heal the 1000-year schism between the them.

The Holy Father made the suggestion in a meeting with the head of Romania's Orthodox Church, Teoctist, who has spent several days at the Vatican with the pope and other officials.

The two church leaders issued a statement calling for "concrete" ways to improve dialogue and help "attain the full visible unity of all the disciples of Christ."

But the Pope went further, suggesting in his comments to Teoctist that a "solid institutional structure" might help forge unity. Without elaborating, he urged both sides give the idea "serious reflection".

The pontiff has made healing the 1000-year rift with Orthodox Christians a hallmark of his 24-year papacy, and has visited several mostly Orthodox countries, including Romania in 1999. But the Orthodox Church has continually accused Catholics of poaching converts from among people who traditionally be Orthodox, and the dispute has so far thwarted the pope's long-sought visit to Russia.


Pope, Orthodox leader sign document on environment (12/6/02)
Cardinal Kasper sees new hope for ecumenical relations (14/6/02)
Rallies in Russian cities protest spread of Catholicism (29/4/02)
His Beatitude Teoctist, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church (Romania Online)

14 Oct 2002