|PAPAL APOLOGY TO GREEK ORTHODOX
ATHENS, May 4, 01 (CWNews.com) – Shortly after his arrival in Greece today, Pope John Paul
II paid a courtesy call on the ranking Orthodox prelate of that land, and issued a statement asking
forgiveness for offenses committed by Catholics against the Orthodox.
After making a courtesy call on Greek President Constantinos Stephanopoulos immediately after his
plane landed, the Holy Father traveled to the residence of Orthodox Archbishop
Christodoulos. There he spoke of the need for "purification of memory." The Pope continued: "For the occasions
past and present, when sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by action or
omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg
The Pope made a particular mention of "the disastrous sacking of the imperial city Constantinople,
which was for so long the bastion of Christianity in the East." That sacking, by Crusaders en route to
the Holy Land, "fills Catholics with deep regret," he said. The sacking of Constantinople nearly 800
years ago remains a particularly sore point in the Greek Orthodox memory, and a focus of
complaints against Rome.
Pope John Paul told Archbishop Christodoulos that Catholics and Orthodox must work to
overcome their historical antagonisms, which give rise to divisions within the Church. These
divisions, he continued, are "a sin in the eyes of God and a scandal in the eyes of the world."