Pages from History: 30 November, 1979: First Catholic Pope to attend Eastern Orthodox service

His Holiness Pope John Paul II (left) and His Beatitude Father Teoctist, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church (right) in Bucharest Photo credit: (c) Artur MUSTATA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

His Holiness Pope John Paul II (left) and His Beatitude Father Teoctist, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church (right) in Bucharest. Photo credit: (c) Artur MUSTATA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

30 November, 1979: John Paul II (18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005) attends an Eastern Orthodox service in Romania, the first pope in 1,000 years to do so.

In May 1999, Pope John Paul II visited Romania on the invitation from Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church. This was the first time a Pope had visited a predominantly Eastern Orthodox country since the East-West Schism in 1054, the event that separated Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism.

On his arrival, the Patriarch and the President of Romania, Emil Constantinescu, greeted the Pope. He embraced the head of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Bucharest’s Union Square before a congregation of 50,000 worshippers. The Patriarch stated, “The second millennium of Christian history began with a painful wounding of the unity of the Church; the end of this millennium has seen a real commitment to restoring Christian unity.”

Teoctist

His Holiness Pope John Paul II (right) and His Beatitude Father Teoctist, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church (left) in front of the worshippers gathered to worship together.

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