Pope Francis apologizes to Orthodox Archbishop for mistakes that led to division
Pope Francis was greeted at the door of the Orthodox Archbishopric in Athens by the Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II.
The last time the leader of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece met with Pope Francis in the country was in 2016, when they and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos.
Archbishop Ieronymos II accompanied the Pope to the Throne Room for their meeting
-"Was it a good trip?"
-"And the good weather helped."
-"Thank God, yes. Thank you."
-"Both in Cyprus and Athens. Welcome."
-"I am happy to see you again. Thank you very much... a place of unity among brothers."
After a private meeting, the Orthodox Archbishop publicly acknowledged the Pope's efforts to address the migration crisis and climate change. He also affirmed his desire to strengthen ties between Orthodox and Catholic Christians.
Then Archbishop Ieronymos II presented Pope Francis with an icon of St. Paul giving a sermon at the Areopagus in Athens.
-“Not only in Athens, but in all of Europe.”
-“Thank you. I thank you very much.”
They exchanged a fraternal handshake.
Then Pope Francis addressed the Archbishop. He lamented the division between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, which he said is the result of worldly concerns and suspicion.
"Shamefully—I acknowledge this for the Catholic Church—actions and decisions that had little or nothing to do with Jesus and the Gospel, but were instead marked by a thirst for advantage and power, gravely weakened our communion. In this way, we let fruitfulness be compromised by division. History makes its weight felt, and here, today, I feel the need to ask anew for the forgiveness of God and of our brothers and sisters for the mistakes committed by many Catholics."
Pope Francis also expressed his optimism that their common roots as Christians will continue to bear fruit.
When he finished speaking, Pope Francis gave Archbishop Ieronymos II a copy of the Codex Pauli, a single volume published on the occasion of the bi-millennium of the birth of St. Paul.
The Pope greeted the other representatives of the Greek Orthodox church present. They were cordial moments of fraternity and a concrete example of the unity and communion of which both religious leaders spoke.