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Monday, November 29, 2004


VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2004 (VIS) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration this morning:

  "On the occasion of the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I to His Holiness John Paul II on November 26 and 27, for the solemn return to the Patriarch of some of the relics of Sts. Gregory Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, theologians, bishops and doctors of the Church, kept and venerated over the centuries in the patriarchal Vatican Basilica, some media have reported that Pope John Paul II's gesture, of great ecclesiastic importance and expression of the 'comunicato in sacris' existing between Eastern and Western Christians, is a 'reparation' and a way for the Pope to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the Catholic Church for taking the relics from the ecumenical Patriarch during the crusades of the 8th century.

   "Such an interpretation is historically inaccurate since the mortal remains of St. Gregory Nazianzus reached Rome in the 8th century during the iconoclastic persecution in order to be saved. 

  "Without denying that the tragic events of the 8th century, the return - not restitution - to Constantinople of the relics of the two saints, venerated equally in the West and the East, important examples of the search for unity and peace of the Church of Christ, intends in the third millennium, going beyond the controversies and difficulties of the past, to propose once again such an edifying example and to give rise to a choral prayer of Catholics and Orthodox for their full communion." 
OP/RELICS SAINTS/NAVARRO VALLS                 VIS 20041129 (270)

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