Pope benedict and Bartholomew IVatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said,“There were no ‘invitations’ sent out. All who wish to come are warmly welcomed.”

There was a unique guest yesterday at the new Popes Inaugural Mass, who hadn’t attended in over one thousand years. This holy guest was the Eastern Orthodox Church leader, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. This is really big news for those of you out there who follow biblical prophecy because the fact are, that there has not been an EasternOrthodox leader that has attended an event like this since the East–West Schism, which is dated approximately in the year 1054.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is the Eastern Greek branch of the Catholic Church, and the Vatican and Pope represent Rome’s Latin branch. At one time, they were essentially the same Brotherhood, but differences between the Latins and Greeks had frequently caused them to be in conflict with one another.

These differences would not only end up in schisms between the East and West, but they also had caused the Latins to declare war in 1204 on the Greeks when they had sent the Knights Templar to capture and sack Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.  This attack by Rome was the final schism that had caused the Eastern Orthodox Church to formally break away from Rome and the Pope for about a thousand years.

However, in 2004, this great divide between the East and West would begin to quickly repair itself when  Pope John Paul II had extended a formal apology for the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, which was importantly and also strongly condemned by the Pope at the time (Innocent III, see reference at end of paragraph); the apology was formally accepted by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

Here is a portion of the news article

Bartholomew — the spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox faithful worldwide — has said he is attending the Mass to underscore the importance he attaches to “friendly ties” between the churches in a “new era.”

Edward Pentin reporting from Rome — When Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural Mass tomorrow, seated on his right will be cardinals, bishops and — for the first time in over 1,000 years at a Mass of this kind — the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

On his left will be heads of state and ministers including President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Vice President Joe Biden and congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

Delegations from 132 countries have confirmed their presence at the ceremony which officially marks the beginning of Pope Francis’s pontificate. These include six reigning sovereigns, 31 heads of state, three crown princes, 11 heads of government and many other dignitaries.

But the Vatican, keen to avoid accusations that it had invited the likes of Jesuit-educated Mugabe to the Mass, has stressed that no one received invitations. “The delegations are coming to Rome following information of the event made public by the [Vatican] Secretary of State,” said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. “There were no ‘invitations’ sent out. All who wish to come are warmly welcomed.”

The liturgy in St. Peter’s Square is expected to be relatively simple and “not too long,” the Vatican said, and interestingly, Pope Francis will not be distributing holy communion. It’s not immediately clear why, but the Vatican seemed to infer it was to keep the Mass shorter and simpler.

Observers, however, believe it is so the Pope is not put in the awkward position of giving communion to Catholics such as Biden and Pelosi whose public positions on abortion are at odds with Catholic teaching. As cardinal, Pope Francis was categorical in disallowing holy communion to any who facilitated an abortion, politicians included.

Also seated close to the Pope will be Jewish and Muslim representatives and members of other religions, together with around 1,200 priests and seminarians as well as diplomats accredited to the Holy See and civil authorities.

The rest of the piazza is expected to be packed with pilgrims and tourists. The Vatican has said everyone is welcome, and no tickets are required. Rome authorities are preparing for up to a million people to attend the Mass, although the final number is expected to be lower.

Among those present tomorrow, perhaps the most remarkable is that of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. It is the first time in over a thousand years that the Greek Orthodox leader has attended a papal inauguration and points to great improvements in Catholic-Orthodox relations in recent years.

Bartholomew — the spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox faithful worldwide — has said he is attending the Mass to underscore the importance he attaches to “friendly ties” between the churches in a “new era.”

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