Russian Patriarch again slams conversions by Catholics
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksei II again lashed out at Catholics on Friday, criticising the Church for seeking converts in the former Soviet Union.
"If they consider Orthodoxy to be just as beneficial and capable of salvation as Catholicism, then what is the sense of this constant effort to draw people into the other faith?" the patriarch was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
He accused Catholics of converting people in parts of Ukraine, where he said Ukrainian Catholics were attempting to take back churches confiscated by the Soviets in 1945 and given to Orthodox parishes.
When Catholic parishes reclaim their churches, many Orthodox who have worshipped there for decades often continue to attend church there, essentially becoming Catholics. Ukrainian-rite Catholics celebrate a similar liturgy to that celebrated by Orthodox Christians.
Acknowledging that many people in former Soviet Republics had been stripped of any religious heritage by the Communists, Aleksei added in an interview with Interfax that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches should work together to bring about a moral rebirth. But he repeated his refusal to meet Pope John Paul II unless relations improved.