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Serbian Orthodox will not invite Pope to major ecumenical celebration

CWN - May 18, 2012

The Serbian Orthodox Church has decided not to extend an invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to attend celebrations marking the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which will take place in Nis in 2013.

The celebrations in Nis, the birthplace of the Emperor Constantine, had sparked some speculation that invitations might be extended to both Pope Benedict and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. However, a meeting of the Serbian Orthodox Synod concluded with an announcement that plans for the celebration were complete, and would not include an invitation to the Roman Pontiff.

According to the Serbian news agency Tanjug, the Orthodox bishops said that the Vatican had already announced that Pope Benedict would not attend the celebrations in Nis. That is inaccurate. In April the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, said that the Pope had not yet made any travel plans at all for 2013. While saying that any talk of a papal visit to Nis would be speculative, the papal spokesman did not dismiss the possibility.

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