John Paul II could visit Russia after the 'open wounds' that exist between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches are healed, according to Moscow's Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II.
    Alexei II confirmed in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that an exchange of visits between the two religious leaders is unconditionally linked to the solution of two very important pending questions, "the persecution of Orthodox Christians by Greek-Catholics in western Ukraine," and the so-called "proselytism" of Catholics in Russian territory.
    The Russian Patriarch said he hopes that the differences will be resolved as soon as possible. He ended the interview with the newspaper by referring to the "high esteem" in which he holds John Paul II, and his greatest respect for the Pope's efforts in service of the ecumenical dialogue among the various Christian denominations.
    In response to the interview, Fr Ciro Benedettini, vice-director of the Vatican Press Office told Vatican Radio that the positions 'are well known'.
    He said: "What is really important is that for some time the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches have been working together positively to overcome these problems."
    Zenit (available soon)
11 Aug 00

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