ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of worldwide Eastern Orthodoxy, made a private visit to open a regional office, expressing hopes this will improve testy relations with the powerful Greek Orthodox Church.
The Greek church resisted efforts to open the office for years, fearing loss of its autonomy. The prime Greek churchman, Archbishop Christodoulos, originally opposed Bartholomew's visit.
Bartholomew has tried to allay fears he wants to regain jurisdiction over 36 dioceses in northern Greece. Though the dioceses were ceded to Greek church control in 1928, the patriarch retains influence there.
Bartholomew says the new office will only seek better communication and not interfere in internal Greek church matters.
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