VATICAN CITY (AP) - Cardinals from around the world have arrived in Rome for a ceremony Saturday to elevate 23 new churchmen to their ranks _ and to get a firsthand readout on an important new development in Catholic-Orthodox relations.Cardinal Walter Kasper, in charge of the Vatican's relations with other Christians, will brief the cardinals Friday on developments in the Vatican's relations with Protestants, Anglicans and other Christians.His talk is also expected to include details of a new document approved by a Vatican-Orthodox theological commission that has been working to heal the 1,000-year schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.In the document, Catholic and Orthodox representatives both agreed that the pope has primacy over all bishops _ although they disagreed over just what authority that primacy gives him.The development is significant since the Great Schism of 1054 _ which split the Catholic and Orthodox churches _ was precipitated largely by disagreements over the primacy of the pope.Kasper has said the document was an «important development» since it marked the first time that Orthodox churches had agreed that there is a «universal level» of the church, that it has a primate, and that according to ancient church practice, that primate is the bishop of Rome _ the pope.«This document is a modest first step, and as such it gives rise to hope, but we must not exaggerate its importance,» he told Vatican Radio recently.Kasper said that participants at the meeting in Ravenna, where the document was approved last month, didn't discuss the more vexing issues of what the pope's privileges or authority are _ although they outlined the way forward for future debate.«This will not be easy; the road is very long and difficult,» he said.Orthodox scholars and officials have praised the document as a positive step toward healing the rift.At the Ravenna meeting, the Russian Orthodox Church representatives walked out after an inter-Orthodox dispute with the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I.Pope Benedict XVI has said that uniting all Christians is a «fundamental» priority of his papacy.Benedict was scheduled to greet the cardinals attending the daylong meeting Friday and will give a speech at its close, after cardinals discuss the new developments and other church issues.
On Saturday, Benedict will preside over the consistory to elevate 23 new churchmen to the top ranks of Church hierarchy. Eighteen of them are under age 80 and thus eligible to vote in a conclave to select a new pontiff.On Sunday, Benedict will preside over a Mass and give each new cardinal his ring, a symbol of his communion with the papacy.One of the over-80 new «princes of the church» is the Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, Emmanuel III Delly, who has echoed Benedict's recent concern about the plight of Christians in Iraq and the region. He is Iraq's first cardinal.The U.S. state of Texas is also getting its first cardinal in Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. Vatican observers have said he was tapped in recognition of the growing Latino presence in the U.S. Church.In all, Benedict named 13 new European cardinals _ 10 of whom can vote in a conclave, boosting Europe's ranks when it comes time to choose the next pope. Latin America got four cardinals, and the United States, Africa and Asia each got two.
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