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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 14:48 GMT
Landmark Catholic-Orthodox talks
By Rahul Tandon
BBC News

Pope Benedict XVI
The Pope has made reaching out to other Christians a priority
The head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, has met the Pope in Rome as part of efforts to bring their two churches together.

It was the first official meeting at the Vatican between Greece's most senior cleric and the leader of the world's Roman Catholics.

Their talks focused on attempts to end the Great Schism that dates from 1054.

They also appealed for an end to religious violence, and pledged to defend Christianity in Europe.

Forgiveness

Relations between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church have improved in recent years.

The visit by Pope John Paul II to Greece in 2001 played an important part in that process.

It was the first visit by the head of the Catholic Church to Greece since the Churches split in 1054 - into what some have described as the Eastern and Western Churches.

Pope John Paul II and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos in 2001
The previous pope met Christodoulos in Greece in 2001

On that trip Pope John Paul asked for forgiveness for past wrongs by Catholics towards the Orthodox Church.

Thursday's meeting looked to build on his good work and comes at an interesting time.

Pope Benedict seems to be reaching out to other Christian leaders.

He has recently held meetings with the head of the Anglican Church, Dr Rowan Williams, and the main purpose of his recent trip to Turkey was to meet Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christian movement.

The Vatican is also trying to set up a meeting between Pope Benedict and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

It is clear that the Pope wishes to bring the different Christian denominations closer together.

That is not an easy process, but Archbishop Christodoulos appears to share his views.

He has described the division of Christians as a "scandal".


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