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Orthodox Patriarch accepts Pope's apology for sack of city April 14, 2004

The leader of the Orthodox Churches on Tuesday formally accepted a 2001 apology offered by Pope John Paul II for the sacking of Constantinople 800 years ago by Catholic Crusaders.

The Pope offered the apology during a trip to Greece, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, today's Istanbul, formally accepted it on the 800th anniversary of the city's capture. "The spirit of reconciliation is stronger than hatred," Patriarch Bartholomew said during a liturgy, attended by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France. "We receive with gratitude and respect your cordial gesture for the tragic events of the Fourth Crusade."

Recalling the Easter season, the patriarch said, "The spirit of reconciliation of the resurrection ... incites us toward reconciliation of our Churches."

The Pope's apology had asked forgiveness of God for "sins of action and omission" by Catholics against the Orthodox, including those of the Crusades, including the sacking of Constantinople on April 13, 1204, when Crusaders sacked and looted the city for three days.

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