Catholic World News
December 07, 2009
The Patriarchate of Moscow is prepared to arrange a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Kirill—if the Vatican agrees to meet familiar conditions set by the Russian Orthodox Church. In a December 6 television interview, Archbishop Hilarion, the chief ecumenical-affairs spokesman for the Moscow patriarchate, said that the Russian Orthodox Church expects the Vatican to take “concrete steps to show that there is a desire to be cooperative.”
"Our position has remained unchanged for many years,” Archbishop Hilarion said. A summit meeting should take place only after adequate preparation, he said, and that preparation would include assurances that the Vatican has renounced any effort to “proselytize” in Russia and nearby territories. The Vatican has consistently said that proselytism is not acceptable, but Catholics must be free to preach the Gospel to Russians who are not currently affiliated with any church.
Archbishop Hilarion also said that the Vatican should take steps to ease tensons between the Cahtolic and Orthodox communities in Ukraine. He charged that more than 500 Orthodox parishes were “forcibly seized” by Eastern-rite Catholics after the fall of Communism. Catholic and Orthodox Ukrainians have clashed frequently over the control of parish properties that were confiscated from the Ukrainian Catholic Church during years of brutal Soviet persecution. Many Catholic parishes were handed over to nearby Orthodox congregations; when the Communist regime fell, the resurgent Ukrainian Catholic Church demanded return of those properties.
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Russian Church wants "concrete steps" from Vatican to make Patriarch-Pope meeting possible (Interfax)