ATHENS, May 4, 01 ( Shortly after his arrival in Greece today, Pope John Paul II paid a courtesy call on the ranking Orthodox prelate of that land, and issued a statement asking forgiveness for offenses committed by Catholics against the Orthodox.
After making a courtesy call on Greek President Constantinos Stephanopoulos immediately after his plane landed, the Holy Father traveled to the residence of Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos. There he spoke of the need for "purification of memory." The Pope continued: "For the occasions past and present, when sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by action or omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg of him."
 The Pope made a particular mention of "the disastrous sacking of the imperial city Constantinople, which was for so long the bastion of Christianity in the East." That sacking, by Crusaders en route to the Holy Land, "fills Catholics with deep regret," he said. The sacking of Constantinople nearly 800 years ago remains a particularly sore point in the Greek Orthodox memory, and a focus of complaints against Rome. 
Pope John Paul told Archbishop Christodoulos that Catholics and Orthodox must work to overcome their historical antagonisms, which give rise to divisions within the Church. These divisions, he continued, are "a sin in the eyes of God and a scandal in the eyes of the world."