Catholic and Russian Orthodox Dialogue

December 20, 2009 – In a public statement marked by its ambiguity, the chief ecumenical officer of the Patriarchate of Moscow has praised Pope Benedict XVI for not pushing to arrange a “summit meeting” with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.

In an interview with the German journal Der Spiegel, Archbishop Hilarion said that the Roman Pontiff “understands the existing difficulties” that trouble relations between Moscow and Rome. The Russian prelate suggested that the late Pope John Paul II did not adequately understand those problems, and was unduly anxious to set up a summit that might have been “just a protocol meeting and handshakes between TV cameras.”

The Russian Orthodox Church wants more results from a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch, the archbishop said. “We want a breakthrough in our relations.” He then proceeded to list the familiar conditions that the Moscow patriarchate has set for a summit meeting: an end to Catholic “proselytism” in Russia and Eastern Europe, and a resolution of tensions between the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic communities in Ukraine.


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