28 December 2005, 12:49
Vatican’s move against proselytism and Greek Catholic expansion would ensure meeting with the Pope of Rome
Moscow, December 28, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate awaits Vatican’s concrete actions that would corroborate its intention to overcome current conflicts, in particular, proselytism practiced by the catholics in Russia and the CIS countries and the uniates’ expansion in Ukraine.
‘It is early yet to speak about any concrete rapprochement. We welcome the statement of the new Pope about the necessity to continue dialogue. We hope that this statement will be followed by actions’, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II said in an interview published by BBC Russian.
‘Why to meet (with the Pope - IF) in front of TV cameras? Just to show to the world that there are no problems between us? But we have problems, don’t we? Such meetings should be well prepared. The problems worrying the Russian Orthodox church and its flock should be solved for the meeting to take place’, the patriarch added.
He noted with regret that the Roman Catholic church still practices proselytism in Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia and Kazakhstan.
‘They try to convert to Catholicism people who were baptized as Orthodox or are rooted in Orthodoxy. That particularly concerns children. Many catholic missionaries in Russia open children’s homes, take children baptized in Orthodoxy and educate them in the catholic spirit’, Alexy II said.
According to him, there still exists a confrontation in Western Ukraine ‘where the Greek Catholic church shows extreme aggressiveness toward Orthodoxy’. For instance, there is no church in Lviv where divine services are conducted in Ukrainian for the parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox church of the Moscow Patriarchate’, the primate noted.
He underscored that the transfer of the uniates see from Lviv to Kiev would complicate relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Vatican. There are many Greek Catholics in western regions of Ukraine, but the number of Greek Catholics in Kiev is ‘very small’.
‘It is clear that a huge uniate cathedral is being built with the prospect for developing proselytism and consolidating Greek Catholics not only in western regions but also in the central Ukraine’, the patriarch said.
He also regretted the attempts of some Ukrainian politicians to interfere in church affairs. ‘Some politicians have been striving to establish a church independent from Moscow at all costs. It is cutting an open wound! There are many mixed marriages; we venerate many saints together!’ Alexy II noted.
He said that the Orthodox and Catholics have a common stand, for instance, on the role of Christianity in Europe. ‘European culture is based on Christian tradition. We have much in common and hope that we shall have more points of contact’, the patriarch said.
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