2007-09-14 10:08:00

Meeting with Pope should be preceded by resolution of bilateral problems - Alexy II

Moscow, September 14, Interfax - Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II has reiterated that he does not rule out meeting Pope Benedict XVI in the future.

"I am often asked about meeting the Pope. I do not rule out that it might happen. But our meeting must be well prepared, and those difficulties we have faced since the 1990s should be overcome," the Patriarch said at a meeting with the Valday International Discussion Club in Moscow.

"The mission of Roman Catholic priests, monks and nuns in Russia had an ultimate goal of proselytism among the Orthodox population," Alexy II said.

We cannot agree with claims by some Roman Catholic officials "that Russia is a missionary field for the Roman Catholic Church," he said.

The Church must provide a moral assessment as to what is happening in the country and worldwide when it comes to economic issues and politics, "especially, when it comes to its people, the history of which was blessed by the Orthodox Church, matches its pastoral care and moral and spiritual upbringing," the patriarch said.

Before the revolution, the Church was almost a governmental body. After the revolution, the Church seceded from the government, "but the government interfered in the Church's life in the most overt manner," Alexy II recalled.

In the early 1990s, totally new relations were established between the government and the Church, "whereby the Church does not interfere into government's affairs, while the government - and I am saying it responsibly - does not interfere into the life of the Church," he said.