Pope expresses hopes for Catholic-Orthodox unity

 Pope Benedict received His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus on Saturday. The archbishop said he had come to Rome "to build new bridges of reconciliation, collaboration and love." In his turn, the Holy Father delivered a talk in which he described the archbishop's visit as "a gift from the God of steadfastness and encouragement mentioned by St Paul as he addressed people in Rome listening to the message of salvation for the first time." The Pope and the Archbishop churchmen also discussed how the two sides could work together on social, moral and bioethical issues, including same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research. Archbishop Chrysostomos has offered to play the role of mediator to try to arrange a meeting between the Pope and the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow, Alexy II. In a speech to the archbishop after their private session, Benedict said he held "firm hope" of uniting the two churches. Despite "centuries-old divisions, diverging roads and despite the hard work of closing painful wounds, the Lord has never ceased to guide our steps on the path toward unity and reconciliation," Benedict said. Chrysostomos told a press conference he will make efforts to help organize a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch when he visits Alexy in Moscow next month. He said he left the meeting "with much optimism." Benedict and Chrysostomos signed a joint statement expressing their desire to work together towards unity. They expressed "serious worry" about bioethical issues, saying: "There is in fact the risk that certain techniques applied to genetics ... will end up harming the dignity of man." The statement also expressed concern that humankind, by "putting itself at the centre of the universe," endangers the environment. Source: VIS

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