2006-03-28 16:05:00

Moscow Patriarchate does not share Cardinal Kasper's 'excessive optimism' about progress in Orthodox-Catholic relations

Moscow, March 28, Interfax - Officials of the Russian Orthodox Church were reserved in their reaction to cardinal Walter Kasper's words about a progress in the Orthodox-Catholic relations, including the Pope's visit to Russia in the near future.

'The position of our Church has not changed. A meeting of the Primates of the two Churches would be justified, if they were to reach a solution for the problems existing between us, such as proselytism and expansionist actions of the Greek Catholics towards Orthodoxy in Ukraine', deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for external church relations Rev. Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax on Tuesday.

According to him, a question of Pope's visit has not been discussed in the course of recent interchurch contacts.

These were his comments on the yesterdays' statement of the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity cardinal Walter Kasper on the fast improving of relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches who said that 'Pope's visit to Moscow is possible in the near future'.

'We would like to hope that sooner or later we could reach understanding of these problems. However, I think that the time for excessive optimism has not come yet', a Russian Orthodox church representative noted.

Professor of the Moscow theological academy deacon Andrey Kurayev also disagrees with cardinal Kasper's words about 'a new spirit' in the relations between the Russian church and the Vatican.

'My sense of smell is not so fine as to sense this spirit. As a rank and file clergyman, I do not see any improvement in the relations between Russian church and Vatican', Rev. Andrey told Interfax on Tuesday.

He founds cardinal Kasper's statement that the problem of proselytism (the enticing of believers - IF) could be 'easily solved' by the Catholic side unjustified.

'As far as the problem of proselytism is concerned, the recent transfer of the chair of Ukrainian uniates from Lvov to Kiev approved by Vatican can in no way be regarded as a friendly gesture', Rev. Andrey noted.