World Orthodox Christian leader to visit Austria

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2003

VIENNA, Austria (AP) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, will visit Austria next year, the nation's chief Greek Orthodox prelate said.

The visit coincides with the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Greek Orthodox community in predominantly Roman Catholic Austria.

A date has not been set, but Bartholomew has accepted the invitation from Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, Metropolitan Michael Staikos told Kathpress, a Catholic news agency, on Monday.

Bartholomew visited Austria in 1997 for a ''church summit'' of the nation's Catholic and Orthodox leaders. He visited briefly again in 1999.

Bartholomew, who is based in Istanbul, Turkey, directly oversees several Greek Orthodox churches around the world, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The patriarch is also considered the spiritual leader of 14 autonomous Orthodox churches, including those of Russia, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.

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