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Greek Orthodox Archbishop criticizes the Pope of Rome
By Fr Constantin Alecse
Source: Biserica.org, August 8th, 2007

THE leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, Archbishop Stylianos, has criticised the global leader of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Benedict.

In a statement sent exclusively to Neos Kosmos, Archbishop Stylianos hit back at statements made by the Pope earlier this month, when he asserted the spiritual primacy of the Roman Catholic Church.

He did so at the expense of Christian Orthodox churches, which he said are wounded.

The document said Christian Orthodox churches are true churches but have a "wound" because they do not recognise the power of the pope.

In response, Archbishop Stylianos called the Pope's statement "unexpected and highly offensive."

"I could never have imagined that my humble estimations of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and his overall work prior to his elevation as Pope would prove so soon to be justified and indicative," Archbishop Stylianos said.

"After his elevation we saw his sudden transformation into the most ardent herald of Medieval fables of the papacy," Archbishiop Stylianos added.

He said that with the supposed resumption of the Official Theological Dialogue, he intends to return to the topic of these 'undermining rapid developments."

"In an enormous hypocrisy, these statements tragically contradict the most promising endeavours of the Second Vatican Council in Ecclesiology and Ecumenism," Archbishop Stylianos said.

Having made a concerted effort to bridge the divide between the two churches, the Pope's comments came as a surprise to many.

In November last year the Pope visited Istanbul to meet with the leader of Orthodox faithful Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew where the two Church leaders renewed their commitment to work towards the restoration of Full Communion between the two Churches.

They called on the faithful of both Churches to strengthen their prayers and endeavours towards the unity of the Churches.

They also expressed their joy and satisfaction for the recommencement of the official Theological Dialogue between the two Churches.

In December, the Orthodox Church in Greece Archbishop Christodoulos visited the Vatican where he met with the Pope in what was an important step in overcoming the division between Orthodox and Catholics.

Ecumenical dialogues are official theological talks between two or more churches or families of churches aimed at overcoming the inherited divergences, often related to doctrine and church order that separate them.

The Orthodox and Catholic churches officially split in 1054 in what is known as the "great schism" between the two Churches, the result of a gradual estrangement over centuries for cultural, political and theological reasons.

The differences between the two churches are based upon certain traditions.

One of the key issues is that the Orthodox Church is composed of a family of churches, each in communion with each other, but unlike the Roman Catholic Papacy, there is no supreme head over all of them.

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