Pope calls church divisions over gays 'painful'

January 19, 2004

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II Sunday called for Christians to overcome the "painful trial" of their divisions as faithful grapple with such issues as the election of a gay Episcopal bishop and hostility between Catholic and Orthodox faithful in eastern Europe.

The election last year of the first openly gay bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church sparked divisions among Anglicans and complicated efforts aimed at unifying the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.

The bishop's ordination also caused tensions between Orthodox and Anglican faithful.

Further frustration for the pope is fueled by persistent tensions between Roman Catholics and Orthodox who have been arguing over property interests since the collapse of Soviet bloc communism. Orthodox also accuse the Vatican of aggressively seeking converts in the region.

The Vatican has insisted it is only looking out for the interests of the Catholic minority in much of the area. But the sour climate has made it impossible for John Paul to realize his aspiration of visiting Russia, one of the few major countries that has eluded the pontiff in 25 years of global travel during his papacy. –Sapa-AP

Related stories
US Episcopals want seperate network of churches [30/10/2003]
Anglicans in crisis over gay bishop ordination [09/01/2004]



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