2008-02-26 12:28:00

Moscow Patriarchate calls on Vatican to discuss status of Catholic dioceses in Russia

Moscow, February 26, Interfax - The issue of the status of Catholic dioceses in the Orthodox lands as well as the issue of the status of the Orthodox dioceses in traditionally Catholic countries requires a "serious and elaborate discussion" in terms of the Orthodox-Catholic dialog, Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Vienna and Austria, Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions, told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.

"Many Western people think that the concept of a 'canonic territory' has lost its sense altogether in modern situation because Orthodox believers coexist side by side with Catholics, Protestants and representatives of other faiths," he said.

Recently Cardinal Walter Kasper, the President of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said the Moscow Patriarchate's wish to abolish four Catholic dioceses in Russia that had been created by the previous Pope John Paul II, was "very unexpected."

It is hard to discern a quality difference between Catholic dioceses in Russia and Orthodox dioceses in the West, Walter said. He called on the Russian Orthodox Church to show the same openness that the Catholics are demonstrating in relation to Orthodox parishes in Western Europe and the U.S.

In 2002, Vatican made a decision to upgrade the level of Catholic structures, operating in the status of apostolic magistrates in Russia, to the level of dioceses, and this decision lead to a protest from the Russian Orthodox Church.