BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Friday, 4 May, 2001, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Pope's visit opens old wounds
Greek Orthodox monks
The Pope has been asked to renounce Catholicism
By Religious Affairs correspondent Jane Little

Out of all the orthodox churches, the Greek one has been among those most opposed to closer relations with Roman Catholicism.

For moderates within Greek Orthodoxy, the Pope's visit is an opportunity to heal old wounds. But they face determined resistance.

The monks of Mount Athos, who regard themselves as the standard bearers of the Orthodox tradition, have led a revolt which has included a protest letter signed by a third of all clerics and demonstrations at which banners revealed sometimes alarming levels of hatred.

Anti-pope symbol
The Pope has been called the "grotesque two-horned monster of Rome".
The Pope has been called the "arch-heretic", the "devil in disguise" and the "grotesque two-horned monster of Rome".

This may be the ultra-conservative fringe of a church which is fighting to remain the cornerstone of Greek identity, but it reflects deep-rooted passions and prejudice.

Since the Great Schism in Christianity over theological differences in 1054, a series of events have widened the gap.

The Orthodox church's most bitter memories relate to the sacking of Constantinople in 1204 by Catholic Crusaders.

Soul poacher

More recently, conflict in the Balkans has, for many, redrawn the line dividing the Catholic West from the Orthodox East.

There is also the perception that the Vatican has sponsored the poaching of Orthodox souls.

All this has put pressure on the Orthodox hierarchy, which caved into the Greek Government and accepted the papal visit. But only grudgingly.

For an institution which not too long ago called on the Pope to renounce Catholicism and embrace the Orthodox faith, it is a step forward.

But the Greek trip doesn't look like opening an immediate door to a papal visit to Orthodox Russia as some optimists had hoped.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

04 May 01 | Europe
Greek fury over Pope visit
11 Apr 01 | Europe
Italy renews Vatican Radio threat
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Greece
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories