Roman Catholic, Orthodox Church Dignitaries Seek Unity

(FOXnews) BELGRADE, Serbia — Top Roman Catholic and Orthodox dignitaries declared Monday that the time has come to close the ages-old rifts between the ancient branches of Christianity and bring East and West closer together.

Representing the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics and more than 250 million Christian Orthodox, sixty bishops, metropolitans and cardinals — 30 from each side — convened in the Serbian capital Belgrade for a renewed “theological” dialogue while acknowledging that much wider issues are involved.

“East and West have been estranged from each other since the 11th century,” said Orthodox Metropolitan John Zizioulas, referring to the historic schism in 1054 when the spiritual leaders in the Vatican and in Constantinople — now Istanbul, Turkey — severed ties over the rising influence of the papacy.