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    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Pope drops 'Patriarch' title

    The new edition of the Pontifical directory shows the remainder of the pope's official titles unchanged:
    "Bishop of Rome,
    Vicar of Jesus Christ,
    Successor of (Peter) the Prince of the Apostles,
    Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church,
    Primate of Italy,
    Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province,
    Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City,
    Servant of the Servants of God."

    The title -- which dates from the fifth century -- has been dropped from the official list of papal titles contained in the Pontifical directory for 2006, which has been printed at the Vatican but not yet released.

    The Corriere della Sera newspaper's respected Vatican correspondent Luigi Accattoli wrote that the move could have "negative repercussions" for relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

    "It's not difficult to imagine that the title's lapse could be badly interpreted by the Eastern patriarchs, either those of the Orthodox Church or by those belonging to the Eastern Catholic rite.

    "That world is very attached to tradition and could interpret the papal move as a claim of superiority over the ranks of patriarchs -- an indirect affirmation of the 'universal patriarch'."

    However, it cited experts as saying that dropping the "Occident" title had no significance in the current debate over a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam.

    The complicated office of Pope.


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