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(Archive photo) Archbishop Theodoros Kontidis of Athens (Archive photo) Archbishop Theodoros Kontidis of Athens 

Archbishop Kontidis: Pope's Greece visit 'an opportunity for unity'

The Archbishop of Athens describes Pope Francis' Apostolic Journey to Greece as a call for unity, not only among Catholics who live in a secular culture on a daily basis, but among Christians of different denominations, especially Orthodox and Catholics.

By Manuella Affejee and Francesca Merlo

The presence of Pope Francis in Greece, according to Archbishop Theodoros Kontidis of Athens, has been “a call” to all Catholics in the country “for unity” and for “a renenwal of faith”.

Speaking to Vatican News' Manuella Affejee in Athens, Archbishop Kontidis noted that Pope Francis’ message always comes from the Gospel.

For his community made up of expats from all over the world, “it is important for all of us to unite with the Pope and to feel that we are a Church united by our faith and by Christ himself,” he said.

Opportunity to remember heritage

Archbishop Kontidis also referred to the Pope’s visit as “an opportunity” for those who have distanced themselves, or even left, the Church.

“It is a call to remember the Catholic faith,” he said, as well as to remember the heritage that each Catholic has received from his or her family.

The Archbishop went on to explain that this is especially important for Greeks, who live in a secular culture in their daily lives.

Sometimes, he said, “we forget our soul and our religious dimension and our faith.” For this reason, it is so important to “to unite and to accept our renewal of Christian faith and life as the body of Christ.”

Listen to the full interview

A chance for unity

Archbishop Kontidis noted that this visit is also an opportunity to remember the unity of those who believe in Christ, “especially between Catholics and Orthodox,” he added.

“We are the same faith,” said the Archbishop, “with the same traditions” and even the same sacraments. However, there is also some reluctance and distance from the Orthodox Churches to cultivate ecumenical relations, he added.

The Orthodox Churches keep their distance because "they don't like to change things," said Archbishop Kontidis. He explained that they fear reforms because they are "difficult to manage" in the Orthodox Churches because "there is no central power".

"Every change is seen as a menace and is threatening the unity of the church," he added. But the question of unity between Christians, and between all those who believe in Christ "is very important", especially "when we share the same faith and the same theology about sacraments".

For this reason, concluded Archbishop Kontidis, "we have to try again and again and never give up." It is our duty, he said, and "it comes from Chrsit himself who wants his disciples to be united."

06 December 2021, 09:52