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13.05.05 08:55 Age: 7 yrs

Vatican, Orthodox Churches to Tackle Rift

AGIOS ANDREAS, Greece (AP) Envoys from the Vatican and Orthodox churches plan to revive efforts to close their nearly 1,000-year-old divide and seek ways to allow a historic trip to Russia by Pope Benedict XVI, a Roman Catholic official said Friday.
A visit the world's most populous Orthodox nation was a major unfulfilled goal for the late Pope John Paul II, whose outreach to Orthodox churches was a hallmark of his papacy. Russian church leaders, however, claim the Vatican is trying to expand into traditional Orthodox lands through Eastern Rite churches that follow Orthodox traditions but are loyal to the pope.

A joint committee is expected to be formed within the next 12 months to "set out an agenda" on improving relations, said the Rev. Brian Farrell, head of a Vatican delegation attending a global conference on Christian cooperation and trends sponsored by the World Council of Churches at a seaside site northeast of Athens.
Farrell, a member of a Vatican council on Christian unity, told The Associated Press that talks with Russian delegates during the conference suggest that proposals for a papal visit could get a fresh hearing because of Benedict's background as an eminent theologian. (…)