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Cardinal Kasper sees ecumenical progress with Orthodox churches

Despite the tensions that have marred relations between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church for the past year, the Vatican's top ecumenical officer sees distinct signs of progress in dealings with the Orthodox world.

Speaking to the Roman news agency I Media, Cardinal Walter Kasper - the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity - cited the closer cooperative arrangements with the Greek and Serbian Orthodox churches as examples of ecumenical progress.

He also mentioned the determination of many Orthodox leaders to join with the Vatican in efforts to preserve the Christian heritage of the European continent.

Just one year ago, the Vatican announced the creation of four new dioceses in Russia, thus elevating the status of four local churches that had been classified as apostolic administrations. That move provoked an angry reaction from the Moscow Patriarchate, which saw the new Catholic dioceses as a challenge to the "canonical territory" of the Russian Orthodox Church. Relations between Rome and Moscow have been distinctly cool since that announcement.

However, Cardinal Kasper observed that other autonomous Orthodox groups were moving closer to Rome.

"Two years ago, after the meeting of the joint international commission for dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, we were in a bad situation," the cardinal recalled. "But since that time, a lot of things have changed and the situation is much better."

Catholic World News

Pope Decries Expulsion of Catholics from Russia (Catholic News Service 13/1/03)
New Vatican envoy to Russia says he hopes relations will normalize (Catholic News Service)
Pope looks to improve Orthodox ties (14/10/02)
Cardinal Kasper sees new hope for ecumenical relations (14/6/02)
Rallies in Russian cities protest spread of Catholicism (29/4/02)
Cardinal Kasper Evaluates Progress and Concerns of Ecumenism (Zenit)
Ukrainians pursue mediator role: Papal candidate seeks reunion between East, West (Canadian Catholic News)

21 Feb 2003