Russian Orthodox Patriarch and Holy Father to meet

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia has said a long-discussed meeting with Pope Benedict XVI may be able to take place in the near future.

"Concerning the possibility of meeting Benedict, I don't exclude anything. Maybe not in a month, but in a year or two," Patriarch Alexy II said,

"But we must prepare carefully and resolve all difficulties."

However, in an interview with French periodical, La Vie magazine, the primate of the Russian church stated that "a visit by the pope is not being considered," adding that the Orthodox church "have never rejected the possibility of personal talks with the pope, even in the most dramatic periods in our relations."

The Russian Orthodox Church has viewed a possible meeting between "the leaders of the two largest Christian churches as real improvement in Orthodox-Catholic relations, not as a formal event to be covered by the world media.

The patriarch said that the priority for the two churches today was to assert the evangelical values and the Christian way of life.

"It is obvious that such tendencies as aggressive secularism, religious relativism, the confining of religion to the sidelines of public life, the propaganda of consumerism and the revision of ethical norms require a joint Christian response, which the Orthodox and Catholic churches must provide."

3 Oct 2007