Patriarch-Pope talks possible after rifts overcome: Moscow Patriarchate

The Moscow Patriarchate has again said that it is not rejecting talks between Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Benedict XVI, but noted problems dividing the two Churches must be settled first.

"If we forge joint decisions that will help resolve the problems dividing the two Churches, it will not be difficult to find a time and venue for such talks. Many plans have been proposed, and all of them will be assessed, of course," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion.

What is most important is that talks between the Patriarch and the Pope "should not be merely a protocol event or an appealing picture to fill the TV screen, but help relieve believers' pain and concerns, felt in many places," he said.

"This is so in places where the Greek-Catholic Church is artificially expanding its influence, and where attempts are made to convert into Catholicism the Orthodox by Christening and family tradition," Fr. Vsevolod said.

When these problems are solved, new prospects will open for cooperation, he said.

Earlier reports quoted Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko as saying in an interview with Western mass media, that he would like the Russian Patriarch and the Roman Pope to meet in Belarus "in the center of Europe and at the junction of the Orthodox and Catholic religions."

Source: Interfax religion