2007-03-12 10:22:00

Meeting between Putin and Benedict XVI will help Russia and Vatican to defend traditional values together - Moscow Patriarchate

Moscow, March 12, Interfax - The Russian president's upcoming visit to the Vatican will strengthen cooperation between Orthodox and Catholics in preserving morals and spirituality, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria thinks.

'Russia and the Vatican have many things to do jointly to defend traditional moral values, and I hope that the meeting between the Russian President Putin and Pope Benedict will contribute into our common cause,' Bishop Hilarion told Interfax in his interview.

He expressed his hope that their meeting would become 'a meeting between two Christians, each of whom bore high responsibility for the lives of the others,' that it would help to improve the climate of the Russian-Vatican relations, and that position of the Russian Orthodox Church would be taken into consideration in the process of discussing the whole set of issues between the two countries.

'Some positive changes in relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church are about to happen during the current pontificate,' the bishop opined. The mechanisms of regular consultations and the bilateral commission were launched, though 'the most painful problems, such as the Unia and proselytism still remain unsolved,' he said.

'However nothing prevents us from intensifying our cooperation in order to defend traditional Christian values in Europe and worldwide even before theological dialogue comes to a result or all existing problems are solved,' he added.

If Catholics and Orthodox accept each other as 'allies, not contenders' in the face of the outer world, there will be no room left for 'any form of proselytizing,' the bishop said.

Read the full text of the interview in our Exclusive.