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Russian Orthodox "no" to Pope John Paul

Reuters is reporting today that the Russian Orthodox Church has ruled out any prospect of a meeting between its head and the Pope. The news service says the Pope "has long had his sights set on a visit to Moscow to help reconcile the two churches, divided since the Great Schism of 1054".

Metropolitan Kirill, who is in charge of the Russian Orthodox Church's external relations is reported as saying "The Patriarch cannot meet the Pope."

"If the leaders meet they have to kiss. They have to embrace each other and this would be a false picture. This would serve the needs of those who are conducting missionary activities against our people. They would say, 'Look, the Pope and Patriarch are kissing. There are no differences'."

"Do your work, fight your fight," Kirill said. "But don't interfere in Russia, where the Russian Orthodox Church has for a thousand years fulfilled its responsibility before God, before history, before its own people."

Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's department in charge of Christian unity, will meet Patriarch Alexiy II during a visit to Russia from Feb. 16-20.

It's also worth looking at our feature story today which provides a background look into the massive resurgence in the Orthodox Church since the fall of Communism.

Reuters – Russian Church Rules Out Meeting with Pope

29 Jan 2004