Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Patriarch Kirill says his meeting with Pope is not possible yet

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia again said there are no preconditions for his meeting with the Pope.

"I still believe conflicts need to be resolved more energetically, if not fully, in order for this meeting to be successful," the Patriarch said in an interview with the Serb newspaper Vecherniye Novosti (a translation of that interview has been posted on the Moscow Patriarchate website).

Patriarch Kirill said the media reiterated "only the sensational aspect of a possible meeting," saying he "would not like its effect to be reduced to sensation."

"In order for such a meeting to be really useful for further development of relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, we need to work together to radically improve the atmosphere of these relations by resolving the problems that exist between us," the Patriarch said.

Speaking about the seizure of Orthodox churches in Ukraine by Greek Catholics, the Patriarch pointed out that the Russian Church has recently suggested reviving the four-party commission comprising the Vatican, the Moscow Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

"However, the Catholic Church was not very enthusiastic about our offer," he said.

The issue of the situation with Orthodox churches in Western Ukraine has been regularly raised during meetings with representatives of the Catholic Church in the Moscow Patriarchate, the Patriarch said.

"The Pope and the heads of the Vatican congregations are expressing an understanding about our concerns, but the problem remains unresolved," Patriarch Kirill said.

At the same time, the Patriarch said the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church "have improved considerably" over the past 10 years

"The issue of proselytism is no longer as acute as it was in the 1990s, when Catholic missionaries came to Russia to work actively here. The Mixed Group on Issues between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Russia, which was created in 2004, played its positive role," he said.

The Patriarch has called for development of cooperation between Orthodox and Catholic Christians, "who keep Christian traditions and have close views on personal and social ethics, technological progress, bioethics, and other issues of our time," including the protection of the rights of Christians.