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Tensions surround cardinal's trip to Moscow

Cardinal Walter Kasper left Rome on Monday for a four day visit to Moscow, despite doubts about a meeting with Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II (pictured).

Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is visiting Russia at the invitation of the Russian Catholic bishops. He will meet with Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, the chief ecumenical representative of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The main topic of the cardinal's talks with Orthodox leaders will be the possibility that the Holy See could recognise an Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholic patriarchate in Kiev. While Ukrainian Catholics have long sought the status of a patriarchate, Russian Orthodox officials bitterly oppose any such move, arguing that only the Orthodox patriarch of Ukraine deserves canonical recognition.

Cardinal Kasper will meet with the Catholic bishops of Russia, and concelebrate Mass in Moscow's cathedral today. He is scheduled to meet with Metropolitan Kirill tomorrow.

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, has pressed for the recognition of a patriarchate, and informed Vatican sources say that Pope John Paul II is favourably disposed toward that plea.

Tensions surround cardinal's trip to Moscow (Catholic World News 16/2/04)

Moscow Patriarchate | Statement on Kasper visit (temporarily removed?)
Vatican, Orthodox Heirarchy Talk in Moscow (Associated Press/The Guardian 18/2/04)
Vatican envoy on visit to Moscow (BBC 18/2/04)
Cardinal Kasper Traveling to Moscow on Positive Note (Zenit 16/2/04)
Cardinal Kasper travels to Moscow for talks with Russian Orthodox (Catholic News Service 16/2/04)
Orthodox united against Ukraine patriarchate (Catholic World News 17/2/04)

18 Feb 2004