Moscow, September 21, Interfax - During a talk with Pope Benedict XVI, Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk pointed out the status of Orthodox believers in Western Ukraine where three Orthodox dioceses had been almost eliminated as a result of coercive actions of Greek Catholics in late 1980s and early 1990s.
The communication service of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations reports that Archbishop Hilarion "stated the need to take practical steps to improve the situation in Western Ukraine," within the territories of Lvov, Ternopol and Invano-Frankovsk Dioceses.
During an hour meeting held Friday in the Pope's residence in Castel Gandolfo, the parties discussed a wide range of issues of bilateral relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches.
Archbishop Hilarion highlighted the importance of mutual testimony by Orthodox and Catholic believers of traditional Christian values before the secular world. He noted the identiņal views of the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches on such matters as family, maternity, demographic crisis, euthanasia and many other ethical problems.
Archbishop stated that there were certain significant differences on these matters between the Orthodox and the Catholics, on the one hand, as well as with different Protestant communities which had pursued the liberalization of the Christian teaching.
In this context, the cooperation between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches to develop a mutual position on the above matters gains specific meaning, Archbishop Hilarion believes.
Archbishop Hilarion and Pope Benedict XVI discussed the challenges and prospects of the theological dialogue between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches.
In closing of the meeting, which was reportedly conducted with meaningful understanding, the parties discussed the prospects of cooperation between the two Churches on cultural matters, in particular, holding the Days of Russian Religious Culture in Rome in spring of 2010.
Archbishop Hilarion presented the Pope with a pectoral cross made in the workshops of the Russian Orthodox Church.