A mediating mission by Education Minister Marietta Giannakou has healed the rift between the Church of Greece and the Istanbul-based Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate, the minister and Church officials confirmed yesterday. «There is an oral understanding, which I think will be adhered to, that was reached between the two Church leaders and myself,» Giannakou said. A spokesman for Greek Archbishop Christodoulos said the deal denoted «a new period of cooperation» between the churches. A turf war for control of 36 northern Greek bishoprics came close to a schism, and led to the Patriarchate severing formal relations with Christodoulos. Under the agreement, the Greek Church will acknowledge the patriarch’s rights over the contested sees, while the Patriarchate will recognize last month’s election, by the Church of Greece, of new bishops to three of the northern bishoprics.