2006-06-02 14:23:00

Moscow Patriarchate: no negotiations held so far with Vatican on meeting between Alexy II and Benedict XVI

Moscow, June 2, Interfax - A Russian church official has stated that so far a meeting between Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Benedict XVI has not been discussed at the talks with the Vatican.

It has been reported earlier on Friday that the head of the Vatican's foreign policy department has expressed hope that a meeting between the patriarch and the pope will take place in the nearest future.

'There is no sensation whatsoever in Archbishop Giovanni Layolo's statement as every person has the right to hope. So far no official negotiations on the meeting between the patriarch and the Pope of Rome have been held', Rev. Igor Vyzhanov, secretary for inter-Christian relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, said to Interfax on Friday.

At the same time, he reminded the agency that Patriarch Alexy had never rejected the possibility for such a meeting, pointing out that it might happen only after the fundamental contradictions in relations between the two Churches were resolved.

Commenting on Archbishop Layolo's statement that the Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchate still had difficulties 'in pursuit of a common vision of doctrine and history', the agency's interlocutor noted that 'it is difficult and perhaps impossible to rectify these differences after over one thousand years of division'.

'But what we can rectify must be rectified, first of all the practical problems of proselytism and the Greek-Catholic expansion in Ukraine', Father Igor added.

Speaking about the Catholic mission among the Orthodox, he stated that 'it is not an official policy of the Roman Catholic Church, as Cardinal Walter Kasper, among others, has stated'.

The priest also expressed hope that 'an improvement that has begun to show in our relations will influence particular representatives of the Catholic clergy who tolerate such an awkward activity in Russia and Ukraine'.

'I would like to believe in the good will of these people', the priest summed up.