Moscow (AsiaNews) – Appreciation for a “commitment to fostering relations between Catholics and Orthodox” and hope to “undertake together our journey towards full communion in him” are the main points of a letter by the Pope that Card Walter Kasper personally handed yesterday to Aleksij II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
From 21 to 30 May the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was on a visit to Russia on the invitation of Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk.
In one of the various engagements of the visit, officially devoted to “greater understanding of Russian Orthodox culture,” the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity met the head of the Russian Orthodox Church yesterday. With him he had the opportunity to talk about the new climate of “friendship and brotherhood” that between the two Churches as well as the problems that continue to fuel tensions between them.
For some Russia experts Cardinal Kasper was supposed to meet the Orthodox leader to jumpstart the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission but apparently he failed to do so.
“The possibility in principle” of a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Aleksij II was confirmed, but the Russian Patriarch reiterated that such an event should be thoroughly prepared, and not just be “a photo-op.”
During the talks the two parties dealt with some of their problems like the “expansion of the Uniate Church” in the Ukraine as well as the rearing of children in Catholic-run orphanages in Russia. Similarly both sides expressed concern over the Ravenna incident of October 2007 at the session of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission.
At that time representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate left the meeting’s plenary session because they opposed the presence of delegates from the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church set up in 1996 by the Constantinople Patriarchate in what Moscow considers its own canonical territory.
Patriarch Aleksij did not mince words about what the Statement that came out of the Ravenna meeting.
“The problem is not only that a statement was approved without our participation but the way it was done confers upon Constantinople a status like that of the Vatican for Catholics.”
Anonymous sources noted that for the Russian patriarch “Catholic-Orthodox dialogue cannot move forward without the participation of the largest Orthodox Church.”