07 December 2009, 11:56Russian Church wants "concrete steps" from Vatican to make Patriarch-Pope meeting possible
Moscow, December 7, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church is not against a meeting between its head, Patriarch Kirill, and Pope Benedict XVI but expects the Vatican to "take "concrete steps to show that there is a desire to be cooperative," the Russian Church's foreign relations chief said in a television program on Saturday.
"Our position has remained unchanged for many years: we have never excluded the possibility of such a meeting. So said the late Patriarch Alexy II and so says the incumbent Patriarch, Kirill," head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk told Rossiya television.
But such a meeting needs good preparation "so that the current tension is eliminated," he said.
"We expect the Vatican, the Roman Catholic Church, to take concrete steps to show that there is a desire to be cooperative and heal all the wounds that were inflicted in the extremely harrowing period of the early 90s," the Archbishop said.
In that period, more than 500 Orthodox churches in Ukraine "were forcibly seized by Greek Catholics and the Orthodox believers were ousted from them".
"We are suggesting concrete solutions to the problems that exist," he said.
Archbishop Hilarion also commented on a recent decision by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to seek diplomatic relations between Russia and the Vatican.
"This move on the part of the Russian state deserves nothing but being hailed," he said.
At the same time, there are problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches "that need to be solved in a completely different way and by different means, that cannot be solved merely by establishing diplomatic relations," he said.
"Above all, it is the problems of Western Ukraine, where there remains tension in relations between the Orthodox and Greek Catholics," Archbishop Hilarion said.