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Pope Benedict drops title of `Patriarch of Occident'

Pope Benedict XVI has dropped the title of Patriarch of the Occident, one of the many he holds as leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 17:49 IST

Pope Benedict XVI has dropped the title of "Patriarch of the Occident," one of the many he holds as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and this could herald a clash with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The title, which dates from the fifth century, has been dropped from the official list of papal titles contained in the Pontifical directory for 2006, which has been printed at the Vatican but not yet released.

The move could have "negative repercussions" for relations with the Orthodox Church.

"It's not difficult to imagine that the title's lapse could be badly interpreted by the Eastern patriarchs, either those of the Orthodox Church or by those belonging to the Eastern Catholic rite.

That world is very attached to tradition and could interpret the papal move as a claim of superiority over the ranks of patriarchs -- an indirect affirmation of the 'universal patriarch, sources said."

However, experts say that dropping the "Occident" title had no significance in the current debate over a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam.

The new edition of the Pontifical directory shows the remainder of the pope's official titles unchanged: "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of (Peter) the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God."

First Published: Mar 01, 2006 16:54 IST