Russian ambassador says obstacles to Papal Visit fading
The Russian ambassador to the Holy See has indicated that the obstacles to a visit by Pope John Paul II to Moscow are fading, and "we won't have to wait much longer before that visit takes place".
Catholic World News reports that Ambassador Vitaly Litvin has said that the events of 11 September shocked the international community, and that Russians in particular have been reminded of the importance of unity. A papal visit would be an important signal for such unity, he said.
Although Pope John Paul has made no secret of his anxious desire to visit Russia, to date the possibility of such a papal trip has been stymied by the adamant opposition of the Russian Orthodox leadership. The ambassador acknowledged that the Russian government would not act alone in inviting the Pope, since "the Orthodox Church is a factor in the stability and cohesion of Russian society, and for that reason the state cannot afford to ignore the Church's interests and concerns."
While he stressed that he is not responsible for relations between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church, Litvin said that he foresees a resolution to the Orthodox complaints about Catholic "proselytism".
A Papal Visit to Russia: Where is Alexei II's invite? (Commonweal 9/3/01)