|HOLY FATHER MEETS WITH THE FIVE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF
VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2001 (VIS) - Following the courtesy visit to the residence of the
Orthodox Archbishop of Athens, where both Church leaders met in private and then spoke in the
presence of their collaborators and exchanged gifts, the Pope left for the apostolic nunciature shortly
after 1:30 p.m. There he had lunch and held a meeting with the Catholic bishops of Greece.
In that meeting, following a greeting by Archbishop Nikolaos Foscolos of Athens, president of the
Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Greece, John Paul II said: "To our brothers and
sisters of the Orthodox Church dwelling in this land we are united by a powerful bond of faith in our
common Lord. How we wish that all hearts were open and all arms outspread to welcome our
fraternal greeting of peace!"
"You are 'frontier' bishops," the Pope continued. "Because of the particular conditions in which you
are living, you greatly desire that the obstacles which stand in the way of full union, and which cause
such suffering for you and your faithful, will be quickly overcome. And so, as you assert your just
rights, you urge the Catholic Church, at times impatiently, to take steps capable of revealing with
ever greater clarity the common foundations which unite the ancient Churches of Christ."
The Holy Father thanked the prelates for their "passionate concern, which is a sign of great
generosity. I assure you that I share the same fervent desire that the unity of the Church may be
seen, as quickly as possible, in all its fullness. I likewise agree with you that there must be a
continuation of the efforts, forcefully stated and encouraged by the Second Vatican Council, by
which the Catholic Church herself strives, in her own daily life, to be ever more concerned to lay the
foundations for better understanding with her brothers and sisters of the other Churches. These
other Churches, in the meantime, must not fail to do their part in the quest for communion."
"What I wish to emphasize today is that the Pope is here, with you, in this very land, in order to
demonstrate a solidarity which is also physical, a genuine and affectionate esteem, and an unfailing
remembrance in his thoughts and prayers."
The Holy Father concluded by exhorting the Catholic bishops not to lose hope: "The Lord certainly
holds unexpected consolations in store for those who trust in Him. Work together in harmony, with
gentleness and charity, courageous in the truth. Know that the Pope remembers you and your work
daily in his prayer."
At 4:30 p.m. the Pope is scheduled to visit the Catholic Cathedral of St. Dionysius of Athens,
situated in the historic center of the city near the residence of the Catholic archbishop. Inaugurated
in 1865, it was raised to a Basilica in 1877 by Pope Pius IX and is dedicated to Dionysius the
Areopagite, disciple of Paul and first bishop of Athens.