2007-01-27 11:01:00

Members of the Orthodox-Catholic working group hope proselytism to have no room in inter-church relations

Moscow, January 27, Interfax - Members of the Orthodox-Catholic working group for considering problems between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Church at their Friday meeting reaffirmed that proselytizing among the Orthodox Christians was unacceptable, a representative of the Department for External Church Relations told Interfax.

‘It was reconfirmed that all statements, which the Catholic Church itself had adopted on a high level, should form a basis for further development of Orthodox-Catholic cooperation, removal of existing problems and restoration of good relationships,’ the Department for External Church Relations’ deputy head and the working group co-chairman Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told the agency.

This meeting, which was the fifth for the group, also reflected on the ‘Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism’ recently reprinted by the Holy See nunciature in the Russian Federation.

‘The group members expressed their hope that this document’s norms, which exclude proselytism among the Orthodox Christians, shall ever be a firm basis for development of relationships between the two Churches,’ the meeting’s official final report said.

A number of other issues concerning mixed marriages, Catholic orphanages’ active in Russia, and the Roman Catholic Church’s pastoral and social structures in Russia, first of all those belonging to the Byzantine Rite, were also discussed.

‘We ought to cooperate more and better in those Catholic orphanages, where they have Orthodox children. Sometimes this cooperation goes well, sometimes it does not, and then it needs to step up,’ Fr. Vsevolod added.

For this purpose the working group members affirmed their commitment to be more active studying local situations.

They also expressed mutual interest for developing relationships between the two Churches for the benefit of their believers and all people of the European continent.

‘It is important that we can find common points in many issues connected with the need to witness for Christ in the modern world. In this sphere our positions completely agree,’ - the secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Russia and working group’s another co-chairman Fr. Igor Kowalewski told Interfax.

‘Our joint group has already brought forth positive results and has been appreciated by the hierarchs of the both Churches, in particular by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and by the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Cardinal Walter Kasper,’ he said.

Before meeting the group members visited the St. Olga’s Roman Catholic parish located in the Moscow district of Lyublino.