TWO personal envoys of Pal riarch Athenagoras of Constantinople who had an audience with Pope Paul on Monday last, arrived in London on Wednesday and had private talks with Archbishop Ramsey of Canterbury.
The two meetings are regarded as of great ecumenical interest. The meeting with Pope Paul was said by Vatican officials to be the opening step in a long series of talks between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
,The envoys are Metropolitan Menton of Elioupolis and Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Myra. They were with the Pope for nearly an hour. Before the visit they said that Orthodox-Roman relations had entered a new era.
The envoys gave the Pope an official report on the Pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes last November.
After meeting the envoys the Pope said he was pleased with the wisdom and realism of the broad lines of the programme which thou had outlined. The programme calls for spiritual preparation followed by discussion of the theological differences between the churches.
Earlier Metropolitan Meliton had told the Pope that his meeting with Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem in January, 1963, had "opened the way to reconciliation after centuries of separation, estrangement and isolation".
In London, the two Greek Orthodox envoys brought with them a proposal for the setting up of a mixed theological committee to study Orthodox-Anglican rapprochement.
In a private talk with Archbishop Ramsey, they presented him with a report on the Rhodes conference. On Thursday, they took part in informal talks in Lambeth Palace on the possibility of arranging joint talks on matters of doctrine.
Today (Friday) the envoys were due to attend a meeting of the Church of England Foreign Relations Council. After their visit to London, they travel to Holland to meet Archbishop Rinkel of Utrecht, a leading prelate in the Old Catholic Church, for talks.