International Orthodox Christian News

Moscow, April 10, Interfax - The Pope and the Russian Patriarch may meet after the two Churches overcome their differences over proselytism and Union of Brest, said Bishop Hilarion, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations.

"As soon as the signing of say a joint declaration in which the Union [of Brest] would be denounced as an event that took place in the past and having a direct relation to the present becomes possible, I believe that such a meeting can and must take place," he said at a press conference at the Interfax central office on Friday.

The Bishop reminded journalists that the predecessor of the incumbent head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, on many occasions spoke of the possibility of a meeting with the Pope when "all obstacles for it disappear and it is well prepared."

The other stumbling block in the dialogue between the two churches today is proselytism by Roman Catholics in countries where the population historically constitutes the flock of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Bishop said.

The possible meeting of the Pope and Patriarch should not merely be a PR action meant to attract the attention of the press but should open a new page in relations between Catholics and Orthodox Christians, he added.

"I think there is every prerequisite for that today. There is growing understanding on both sides about the need to give up the spirit of competition and start cooperating on the basis of the understanding that we are allies, not foes. We have a common missionary field, we are facing common challenges," the Bishop said.


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