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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Moscow Patriarch lays down conditions for meeting with the Pope

The foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion has, after the papal election subdued hopes for an early encounter between Pope Francis  and Moscow Patriarch Kirill I..

"In my opinion, such a meeting is possible, but the time and place mainly depend on how fast we can solve the conflicts dating from the 80s and 90s ," Hilarion said Thursday on the German Catholic news agency KNA, who cited Russian media reports. The problems set back the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue a long way.

The Metropolitan also stressed that the elected Pope, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had  "spiritual affection" for the Orthodox Church and declared more than once the desire for closer contact. The Russian Orthodox Church hope that both churches further expand their relationships as "allies".

The Secretary General of the Russian Catholic Bishops' Conference , Igor Kowalewski said, according to the Interfax news agency that it was too early to talk about a visit by the Pope to Russia. The Catholic Church in this vast country is very small and only counts four bishops. A meeting of the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow will likely be held in a place other than Rome or the Russian capital.

As the main obstacle for an historic first-time meeting of the heads of the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church, the Moscow Patriarchate has repeatedly cited the controversy over religious buildings in the Western Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church accuses the Greek Catholic Church in communion with Rome, of having seized in the early 1990s after worship was permitted again  hundreds of places of worship. The Uniates reject this, they were only gettibg back the churches, which had been taken from them in 1946 in the forced merger with the Orthodox Church.

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