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Bartholomew I of Constantinople in Belgium

The head of the Orthodox Church is concluding his visit to the Low Countries.  Orthodox faithful in Belgium are marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of a separate orthodox archbishopric in Belgium.

Today Bartholomew is in Rochefort, but he moves on to Luxembourg later in the day to round off his trip to the Benelux.

“Worldwide the orthodox faith groups 300 million people.  In Belgium there has been a big rise in numbers in recent years thanks to Greek and Romanian immigration.  Orthodox believers are estimated to total 150,000” says the Belgian metropolitan Athenagoras Peckstadt.

Last Saturday Bartholomew celebrated vespers at the orthodox cathedral in Brussels. All present speak of a very intense happening.

Here the head of the Orthodox Church spoke with Christian democrat politicians with talks centring on the inter-faith dialogue with orthodox countries and how the orthodox faith is integrated into Belgian society. Bartholomew met King Filip, the Belgian primate, Cardinal De Kesel and orthodox bishops.