Ortho­dox del­e­ga­tion not at pope’s Mass

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

Pope Fran­cis’ ef­forts to im­prove re­la­tions with the Ge­or­gian Ortho­dox Church suf­fered a pub­lic set­back Satur­day af­ter the pa­tri­ar­chate de­cided not to send an of­fi­cial del­e­ga­tion to his Mass and re­peated that Ortho­dox faith­ful can­not par­tic­i­pate in Catholic ser­vices.

In the run-up to Fran­cis’ Cau­ca­sus visit, the Vatican spokesman had said the Ortho­dox pa­tri­ar­chate would send a del­e­ga­tion to the Mass in a Tbilisi sports sta­dium “in a sign of the rap­port be­tween the two churches” — sug­gest­ing that the chill that had clouded the 1999 visit of St. John Paul II to Ge­or­gia had warmed slightly.

But Ortho­dox pa­tri­ar­chate spokes­woman Nato Asa­tiani said Satur­day that the del­e­ga­tion had stayed away “by mu­tual agree­ment.”

The pa­tri­ar­chate up­dated a pre­vi­ous state­ment on its web­site say­ing that “as long as there are dog­matic dif­fer­ences be­tween our churches, Ortho­dox be­liev­ers will not par­tic­i­pate in their prayers.”

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