Pope Prays for Greek Orthodox Church

Expresses Condolences for Death of Archbishop Christodoulos

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is assuring the Greek Orthodox Church of his prayers after the death of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece.

The Orthodox archbishop died of cancer Monday at age 69.

The Holy Father sent a telegram to Metropolitan Seraphim of Karystia and Skyros.

He gave assurance of his spiritual closeness to those mourning the death “of this distinguished pastor of the Church of Greece.

“The telegram continued: “The fraternal welcome which His Beatitude gave my predecessor Pope John Paul II on the occasion of his visit to Athens in May 2001, and the return visit of Archbishop Christodoulos to Rome in December 2006, opened a new era of cordial cooperation between us, leading to increased contacts and improved friendship in the search for closer communion in the context of the growing unity of Europe.

“I and Catholics around the world pray that the Orthodox Church of Greece will be sustained by the grace of God in continuing to build on the pastoral achievements of the late archbishop, and that in commending the noble soul of His Beatitude to our heavenly Father’s loving mercy you will be comforted by the Lord’s promise to reward his faithful servants.

“The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, will preside at the funeral this Thursday at the Cathedral of Athens.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, retired president of the Pontifical Council of Culture, and Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will represent the Holy See at the funeral.

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