12 March 2007, 10:24
Too early to discuss date for meeting between Alexy II and Benedict XVI - Moscow Patriarchate
Moscow, March 12, Interfax - The meeting of the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia should be a result of overcoming key problems in relations between the two Churches, not a protocol show, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria thinks.
'It is too early now to propose any dates, because the most important thing is to prepare this meeting carefully,' Bishop Hilarion told Interfax in his interview.
In order to become 'an historic event' and 'a break-forward' in bilateral relations, the meeting of the patriarch and the pope should be a result of 'understanding on key issues' reached by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, he noted.
Bishop Hilarion reminded that ten years ago, in 1997, date and time had been already arranged for Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Alexy II to meet in Vienna. But it was cancelled as in the process of preparation it became clear that Orthodox and Catholics had failed to reach understanding on the Unia and proselytism issues.
'I think neither Catholics nor Orthodox are interested in having that experience once again. That is why we first need to solve the existing problems,' he added.
However the two primates may meet in some future, but not in Moscow or the Vatican City, but 'on a neutral soil,' he said.
Commenting resent European press rumors regarding possible meeting between Alexy II and Benedict XVI in Vienna, Bishop Hilarion said that neither he nor Cardinal Schonborn, nor the apostolic nuncio in Austria were 'aware of such a meeting being arranged.'
'Had it been prepared, we as Orthodox and Catholic bishops in Vienna would have been informed,' the bishop added.
Read the full text of the interview in our Exclusive.