Religion: Wise Men from the East

Ponderous and stiff with the incrustation of centuries of bickering and privilege is the Eastern Orthodox Communion—an assortment of 15 national churches headed by patriarchs and loosely bound by a common tradition of liturgy, sacerdotalism, and suspicion of Rome. Last week, on the sun-drenched Greek island of Rhodes, representatives of 12 of the 15 main churches gathered for a Pan-Orthodox Conference.

They had been called together by Athenagoras, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who (by a tradition that dates back to the schism of Christendom between Rome and Constantinople in 1054) is the "first...

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