Orthodox archbishop meets church leaders during visit to Ireland


A FIRST visit to Ireland by Metropolitan John Yazigi, Antiochian Orthodox Archbishop of western and central Europe, ends tomorrow when he returns to Paris. He arrived in Belfast last Wednesday where he met the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Bishop Noel Treanor.

On Thursday he met the Catholic Primate, Cardinal Seán Brady, in Armagh. He also met the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Alan Harper, and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor, the Right Rev Alan Abernethy.

After a tour of St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral and Armagh public library, Archbishop Harper presented the metropolitan with a copy of the Book of Common Prayer which Archbishop Harper received on its launch in 2004. It is signed by all bishops present then, including the Archbishop of Canterbury.

A divine liturgy service at the Antiochian church of St Ignatius in Belfast on Friday evening last was attended by 38 clergy from across the Christian denominations. The metropolitan and Bishop Abernethy also opened an exhibition of icons there. On Sunday, at the same church the metropolitan ordained Paul Totten deacon, the first Antiochian ordination in Ireland.

In Dublin yesterday Metropolitan John visited St Patrick's Cathedral and the Indian Orthodox Church at Cathal Brugha Street. Last night he celebrated the divine liturgy at the Antiochian parish chapel of St Joseph on Grace Park Road. He returns to Belfast this morning. It is estimated that the number of Orthodox Christians in the Republic alone is most likely double the 20,800 recorded in the 2006 census. Orthodox services now take place regularly in many centres, including Dublin.