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    » 04/17/2007, 00.00

    RUSSIA – VATICAN

    Aleksej II would meet the Pope but there are “no concrete steps” yet, says bishop Mark



    The Russian Orthodox leader says Benedict XVI and the Patriarch of Moscow can speak “as one voice” about shared challenges but they still remain far apart. Uniate Church and the Petrine primacy are major obstacles. “The primacy of the bishop of Rome is not on the agenda of any Orthodox Church.”

    Rome (AsiaNews) – At a meeting in the Vatican on the “Church’s mission and the ministry of Benedict XVI and Aleksej II”, the Bishop of Egorievsk, Mark, spoke of “sympathy” and availability to dialogue and “co-operation on shared social and spiritual challenges” but said that “no concrete step” could yet be made to bridge the gap between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches.

    Although the atmosphere in the two years of Benedict XVI’S pontificate was one of esteem and openness, “it is not possible to talk about any concrete steps towards closer relations between the two sister Churches,” Bishop Mark said.

    Not only is there the charge of proselytising, which Moscow levels at Catholics, but there is also the issue of the Uniate Church, i.e. Eastern Catholics in Ukraine, that demands a solution.

    The deputy chairman of the Department for External Church Relations at the Moscow Patriarchate said that “Benedict XVI’s predecessor left him a message relative to the transfer of the Catholic cathedra to Kiev. That was not appreciated very much.”

    Unlike the Ecumenical Patriarchate which is open to a compromise, Mark’s position on Petrine primacy remains unyielding.

    “The primacy of the bishop of Rome is not on the agenda of any Orthodox Church,” he told AsiaNews, “and none of them can accept the primacy of the Pope.  I do not think that we should concern ourselves with internal problems at a time when people find themselves in a spiritual desert”.

    Two days ago however, Patriarch Bartholomew I’s envoy, Metropolitan Joannis Zizioulas, had said that “the Orthodox are ready to accept the idea of a universal primate acting always in communion with the Synod.”

    Still Bishop Mark tried to smooth some of the ruffled feathers. “Our Churches,” he said, “may have differences on matters of dogma, but they face the same task vis-à-vis a certain kind of modernity, one that violates our altars. If the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow can speak with one voice [on this issue] as they do now, their voice will be stronger and more easily heard.”

    “If it is the expression of a sincere spiritual union, a meeting between Aleksej II and Benedict XVI will be possible. The Patriarch of Moscow himself talks about it with sympathy,” Bishop Mark said.

    At yesterday’s conference Cardinal Poupard also referred to the much talked about meeting between the two Christian leaders.

    “There is a common desire,” he said, “to see this meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch take place at a juncture when the journey already undertaken will allow for further steps.”

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    See also

    16/03/2009 VATICAN
    Pope: missionary activity "intrinsic" to the life of the priest
    Benedict XVI has proclaimed a Year for Priests, which will begin next June 19. During the year, he will proclaim St. John M. Vianney "Patron of all priests of the world." A "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" will be published, as well as a collection of texts by Benedict XVI on the essential themes of priestly life and mission in the present era.

    18/06/2009 VATICAN
    Pope: priests must seek to be “totally uniform” with their ministry
    Benedict XVI’s Letter for the Year for Priests that begins tomorrow. The example of the Curè d’Ars, a model of the priestly mission. At times the Church suffers for the “unfaithfulness” of some of her ministers, but still today there are those who become martyrs. The fundamental witness of life. Do not resign yourselves to empty confessionals.

    28/11/2009 VATICAN
    Year for Priests: from 9 to 11 June an international meeting of priests in Rome
    The arrival of 5 thousand priests from around the world is expected, especially from Europe. The three-day meeting will conclude with a vigil with the pope and Mass celebrated by Benedict XVI in St Peter's Square.

    30/10/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Christian-Jewish dialogue “fruitful”, now it is time to accept and respect differences
    In receiving members of the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations, Benedict XVI highlights the need for Christians and Jews to expand their understanding of what they have in common.

    06/05/2007 VATICAN
    May the awareness that everyone is a missionary grow, says Pope
    On Fidei donum’s 50th anniversary, Benedict XVI says that despite the difficulties of our times there are “signs of hope” such as the missionary vitality of the Christian people. We must pray for and hold on to the “certainty” that the Lord will not deprive us of priests. The Vatican Secretary of State writes a letter to the prefect for the evangelisation of peoples.



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