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Pope Meets with Eastern Orthodox Leader

Jan. 5, 1964 - Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople met in Jerusalem tonight in a spirit of reconciliation between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Patriarch, the most eminent representative of the Eastern Orthodox Church, called on the Pope at the Roman Catholic Apostolic delegation today soon after the Pope returned to the Jordanian sector from his visit to Israel. The Pope and the Patriarch embraced and exchanged a symbolic kiss of peace. After his meeting with the Pope, the Patriarch, at the Orthodox patriarchal residence, declared: “There are no differences except theological ones between us.” He added that many of the phrases and words used in the theology of both East and West had “lost their meaning over the centuries.” He thus implied that the differences were more a matter of words than of meaning. The Patriarch said that as soon as possible, he hoped to send an Orthodox delegation to Rome to talk over problems. “From now on,” he said, “we mean business.” Although he did not disclose the text of his official replay to Pope Paul’s address of greeting, the Patriarch indicated that it was warmhearted. Asked what the most important thing in it was, he replied: “The most important thing is that we embraced. It was a big day — bigger than can be imagined.”


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