"There's more unity than differences with Catholics"

NIŠ -- Serbian Patriarch Irinej has said that there was "much more that unites us with the Roman Catholic Church," compared to that which stands in between.

Patriarch Irinej (Beta)
Patriarch Irinej (Beta)

"We've always been close and lately it is even intensified, and we want to move away those the moments that keep us apart," the Serbian Orthodox Church head told reporters at the opening of the exhibition "Naisus - Medians", organized by the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments of Niš.

According to him, it is not necessary to have unity - but that a level "which befits Christians and people who read the gospel" can be reached between the two churches.

"The anniversary of the Edict of Milan is an opportunity to go back to the past and to look into the contents of the edict and see how much we need it today," said the patriarch.

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Belgrade Stanislav Hočevar said the anniversary of the Edict was an opportunity to discover the history from the time of a united Church, and that this "enables us to learn the same roots, the same content, the same future."

He recalled that the the pope's envoy, the cardinal of Milan, Angelo Scola, would visit Niš in September, and added that the forging of mutual ties "leads to a better future."

Hočevar said pilgrims will start visiting the Catholic church in Niš in September, where they will find traces of the Holy Cross and the relics of Holy Empress Helena.

"It's an opportunity for many Catholics to come to Niš and see the permeation of the East and the West."

The archbishop also said that the restored Catholic church in the southern Serbian town would be consecrated on September 14.