The Russian Orthodox Church leader in charge of inter-denominational contacts has said relations with the Roman Catholic Church have steadily improved since the ascent of Pope Benedict XVI.
"After the election of Pope Benedict XVI our dialogue became more intensive," Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, told the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily newspaper.
"And that’s why I have a much more positive attitude to the level of Orthodox-Catholic relations than previously," Kirill said in the interview published on 1 August, which covered topics including morality, President Vladimir Putin’s religious faith, and Islam in Russia.
Kirill met Pope Benedict at the Vatican in May and spoke warmly of the pontiff in July at the World Summit of Religious Leaders in Moscow. Pope Benedict did not attend that event, but Cardinal Walter Kasper led a large Vatican delegation.
Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, spoke repeatedly of his dream to visit Russia, but met resistance from the Moscow Patriarchate, which accused the Vatican of seeking converts and infringing on its jurisdiction by creating Roman Catholic dioceses in Russia.
In the August interview, Metropolitan Kirill said the two churches had much in common in counteracting "the policy of pushing religion out of public life". But he appeared restrained about prospects for a speedy meeting between the church’s leaders, despite the improved relations.
"We will develop them and see what this realistically will bring our churches," Kirill said. "And then already we’ll decide when, where and how the primates of our churches should meet."
(c) Ecumenical News International
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