2007-03-15 00:04:00

Russia will assist in dialogue between Russian Orthodox Church, Catholic Church - Putin

Bari, March 15, Interfax - The Russian authorities will help to develop a dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

"We, on our side, will do everything we can to help this interchurch dialogue," he said at a press conference after a Russian-Italian summit.

Putin noted that in Russia the church is separated from the state but he is aware of the willingness of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II to develop friendly and close relations with the Roman Catholic Church.

He also spoke of his meeting at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI.

"We had a broad dialogue mainly on international problems related to the settlement of crises around the world. Part of the conversation dealt with general human values and the interaction between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church," Putin said.

In turn Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in connection with Putin's visit to Bari voiced hope that a place would appear in the future for active meetings giving an impetus to a closer dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

Approaches have appeared that can be called the beginning of deepening, the discussion of mutual problems, he said. In his opinion, it is essential for the future that Bari regain its status as a place of worship for Orthodox Christians.

He acknowledged that the dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches has been complex with many past disputes obstructing the restoration of the dialogue and its advancement.