Pope eyes unity with Orthodox

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI stepped up his appeals to Orthodox Christians yesterday, saying a unified church could help a world «full of skepticism and doubts» believe. Benedict acknowledged key differences with the Orthodox Church but stressed areas of agreement during a Mass attended by an Orthodox delegation sent from the spiritual leader of the world’s 200 million Orthodox faithful, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios. Benedict has made improving relations with Christians, and healing the 1,000-year-old rift with the Orthodox, a «fundamental» priority of his papacy. The churches formally split in 1054 over several issues, including the primacy of the pope and devotional differences. In his homily, Benedict stressed the unity and universality of the church, but acknowledged key differences over the clout of the pope: «In this time of the world, full of skepticism and doubts, but also rich in the desire for God, let us recognize anew our mission to witness Christ the Lord together, and on the base of that unity that he has given us, to help the world believe.»

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