Aleksij II optimistic about dialogue with Catholics

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksij II said today he was optimistic about the prospects for dialogue with the Vatican.

This greater willingness to engage in a dialogue comes after Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the need for Christian unity, especially of the importance of taking "concrete steps" towards improving relations between the Churches.

The Patriarch referred to relations with the Vatican in a long interview with the daily Russkaja Gazeta.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has always been a critic of the Catholic Church's so-called proselytising activities in the post-Soviet region, an allegation that prevented Pope John Paul II from travelling to Moscow.

However, in the newspaper interview, Aleksij II said he hoped that "the Vatican would translate words into deeds and take the steps necessary to overcome the existing problems and thus favour the positive development of dialogue and cooperation".

"Christians," the Patriarch finally said, "need to cooperate in today's complex world that some are trying to cut off from God".