Moscow patriarch, pope may meet next year

Holy See spokesman on ecumenical issues, Cardinal Walter Kasper, says that there is hope that Pope Benedict may meet Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II in what would be a groundbreaking meeting.

The International Herald Tribune reports that the meeting could take place within a year according to Cardinal Kasper.

Cardinal Kasper said both the pope and Patriarch Alexy II were open to the meeting, and that much depended on the "internal situation" of the Russian church.

"No one is against the meeting, even among the Orthodox," the SIR agency quoted Kasper as saying. "There is the hope that Benedict XVI and Alexy II can meet within a year."

The German prelate spoke on the sidelines of a ceremony awarding an honorary degree to Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II, who will be received Saturday by Benedict and has offered himself as a mediator to help arrange the meeting.

The late Pope John Paul II was rebuffed in his bid to make a pilgrimage to Russia after Catholic-Orthodox tensions arose following the demise of the Soviet Union.

The Russian church accuses Roman Catholics of seeking converts in areas that traditionally would be Russian Orthodox.

The Vatican has rejected the proselytising accusations, saying it is only ministering to the around 600,000 member Catholic community in Russia, a country of 144 million.

In a recent interview with the Italian newsweekly L'Espresso, the Cypriot archbishop said Benedict had deep knowledge of Orthodox theology, a factor he said should help in arranging a meeting with Alexy and also in reuniting the two churches, which split apart nearly 1,000 years ago.

Report: Vatican cardinal says pope and Russian Orthodox patriarch could meet within a year (International Herald Tribune, 14/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Patriarch Alexy II

Russian Patriarch meets with new Papal envoy (CathNews, 24/2/03)

15 Jun 2007