Cardinal Kasper to Moscow for ecumenical talks

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is travelling to Moscow this week to meet with officials of the Moscow patriarchate.

A June 20 Vatican announcement indicated that Cardinal Kasper (pictured right) would be in Moscow June 20 -23, to speak with Russian Orthodox leaders "on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of the pontificate of Benedict XVI." According to Catholic World News, his visit to Moscow will coincide with a visit by the secretary-general of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Samuel Kobia, who was in Rome last week.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II (pictured left) has welcomed the statements by Pope Benedict XVI, affirming his commitment to ecumenical progress. In a June 14 interview with the Russian journal Russkaja Gazeta, Alexei said he is "optimistic" about the future of relations with the Holy See, adding that he hoped the Vatican was ready to remove obstacles to further dialogue.

In the past the Russian prelate has persistently charged that Catholic leaders must renounce "proselytism" within countries that are predominantly Orthodox.

In a May 25 bid for new initiative on the ecumenical front, Cardinal Kasper suggested a "synod for reconciliation" between Catholic and Orthodox leaders. The German cardinal argued that the Catholic and Orthodox churches are "the heirs of the common European culture," and should joint to promote "values that are seriously threatened" both by the growth of secularism in western Europe and by the decades of atheistic propaganda under the Communist regimes of eastern Europe.

Relations between Moscow and Rome have been seriously troubled in recent years, with tensions reaching a peak in 2002 after the Vatican created four new Catholic dioceses on Russian soil. But in February 2004 Cardinal Kasper met with Patriarch Alexei in Moscow to re-start dialogue, and in August 2004 Pope John Paul II made a dramatic gesture by returning the cherished icon of Our Lady of Kazan to the Moscow patriarchate.

Cardinal Kasper to Moscow for ecumenical talks (Catholic World News 20/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorced by Church Resources)
The Vatican | Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Article on Russian Orthodox Church (Wikipedia)

Lest we forget our neighbour, says Moscow Patriarch (CathNews 7/1/05)
Pope returns rare icon to Russia (CathNews 30/8/04)
Pope prays icon return brings Catholics, Orthodox closer (CathNews 24/8/04)
Cardinal Kasper reports on meeting with Russian Patriarch (CathNews 25/2/04)
Cardinal Kasper sees ecumenical progress with Orthodox churches (CathNews 21/2/03)

Alexy II doesn't plan to meet with visiting Vatican cardinal (Interfax 20/6/05)
Key concerns for Eastern churches: Ukraine, Holy Land, seminaries (Catholic World News 20/6/05)
Cardinal Jozef Glemp Beatifies Three Poles (Catholic Online 19/6/05)

21 Jun 2005