Orthodox Leader May Meet With Pope
The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church said on Tuesday that a meeting with Pope John Paul II would be possible if the two churches first settled some disputes.
Patriarch Alexy II met with visiting Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who voiced hope that a meeting between the pope and patriarch could be arranged.
"We do not rule out such a possibility, but we believe the meeting should be well-prepared and the obstacles to it that exist today should be removed," Alexy said.
Pope John Paul has long wanted to visit Moscow, part of his effort to promote reconciliation between the two churches. But the Russian Orthodox Church says such a visit must not take place until several conflicts are resolved.
Orthodox officials say that long-standing theological divisions have been worsened by Roman Catholic missionary activity following the fall of communism in predominantly Orthodox Russia.