Pope John Paul II, saying the ``spring of hope has begun,'' joined the leader of Romania's Orthodox Church in calling for the healing of divisions within Christianity.
    The Pope, arriving in the Romanian capital on Saturday, said he hoped his three-day visit would help ``heal the wounds'' in Catholic-Orthodox relations caused by the persecution of Catholics under Romania's communist regime, which was deposed in 1989.
    ``Thank the Lord that after the terrible winter of communist reign, the spring of hope has begun,'' the pope said in perfect Romanian, to the delight of hundreds of people who turned out to greet him on his arrival in the Romanian capital.
    John Paul's visit is the first by a Roman pontiff to a mainly Orthodox country in nearly 1000 years.

10:58am 10/5/99 / AP


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