By Desmond O'Grady in Rome and Christopher Howse
UNITY TALKS between Catholics and Orthodox set for next month in Patmos are threatened by the hard line of the head of the Greek delegation.
Metropolitan Chrysostomos — Gerassime Zaphiris, has called for suppression of the uniate (Catholic Eastern-rite) churches as a precondition of dialogue. And a lay theologian Jan Karmiris, apparently because he objects to the inclusion of uniates among the Catholic participants, has resigned from the Greek delegation. Moreover the Russian Orthodox are reportedly piqued because they learnt of the Patmos conference From the press before receiving their invitation from Istanbul, scat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Not only are they upset by this but it leaves them little time to choose delegates. The establishment of the joint Catholic-Panorthodox commission was announced during John Paul II's trip to Turkey at the end of last year. Reunion with the Orthodox seems high in Pope John Paul's priorities. The catholic commission members include live cardinals.
Howver, Metropolitan Chrysostomos' article raises doubts about the feasibility of the joint commission. In an article in the current issue of the review of the Athens theological faculty, where he teaches, he writes: "The Roman Catholic Church's entire negative policy towards the orthodox continues to exist in a new garb." The aim, he argues, is "undermining of Orthodoxy through the uniates."
It is hardly a promising prelude to dialogue. Chrysostomos calls for the immediate "abolition of Roman Catholic propaganda and the repeal of the scandalous installation of a uniate hierarchy in the midst of the Orthodox plerorna" (A reference to the uniate Archbishop of Athens).
Among the points he makes against the Vatican arc: • John Paul's letter of encouragement last year to the Ukrainian Cardinal Joseph Slipij which, he claims, "provoked the indignation of all orthodox chruches".
• The alleged Vatican attempt to change the status of Holy Land shrines at the expense of the Orthodox.
• The alleged Vatican agreement with Egypt to establish a Jewish Christian Muslim tabernacle on