Orthodox priest shouts “heretic” at Pope Francis


An elderly Orthodox priest yelled “Pope you’re a heretic” several times as Pope Francis arrived for a meeting in Athens with the leader of Greece’s Orthodox Church on Saturday.

“The pope is unacceptable in Greece! He should repent!” the priest told reporters after being removed from the scene.

According to The Associated Press, Francis “appeared not to notice” the interruption and continued on his way to his meeting with the leader of Greece’s Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos.

Francis’s visit to Greece and Cyprus last week aimed to further accelerate Catholic-Orthodox ties and collaboration.

The pontiff began his mission in Cyprus on Thursday after meeting with state officials that afternoon and evening.

He spent Friday strengthening the church’s already good relations with the island’s majority Orthodox Christians and encouraging its small Catholic community, which includes thousands of mostly Filipino migrant workers.

He also spent time meeting with Archbishop Chrysostomos and the Holy Synod in Nicosia.

The agenda focused on reconciliation between the Catholic and the Orthodox Church, after centuries of divisive competition and mistrust.

His aim wasn’t to discuss each faith’s means of encountering the Lord, Francis explained, “but of the risk of absolutizing certain customs and habits that do not require uniformity and assent on the part of all”.

He urged both Churches to avoid becoming paralysed by fear of openness or bold gestures and to steer away from speaking of “irreconcilable difference” that has nothing to do with the Gospel.

“Let us not permit the ‘traditions,’ in the plural and with a small ‘t’, to prevail over ‘Tradition,’ in the singular and with a capital ‘T,’” he added.

If the Churches set aside abstract concepts and were to collaborate, for example in works of charity, education and the promotion of human dignity, they would rediscover their fraternity, Francis said.

“Centuries of division and separation have made us assimilate, even involuntarily, hostility and prejudice with regard to one another, preconceptions often based on scarce and distorted information and spread by aggressive and polemical literature. This too makes crooked the path of God, which is straight and directed to concord and unity,” Pope Francis declared.

“It is my heartfelt hope that there will be increased opportunities for encounter, for coming to know one another better, for eliminating preconceptions, and for listening with docility to our respective experiences of faith.

“This will prove for each of us an exhortation and incentive to do better, and bring a spiritual fruit of consolation.”


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