Papal Visit to Russia in 2002 a Possibility, Archbishop Says

Apostolic Administrator Says Alexy II Softening His Opposition

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2001 ( Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, apostolic administrator in European Russia, told the magazine Inside the Vatican that he is certain John Paul II will travel to Russia next year.

The archbishop, whose see is in Moscow, said: “Even the Russian Orthodox patriarch, Alexy II, does not exclude a meeting with the Pope, though the patriarch sets some conditions which must be met beforehand.”

A trip to Russia seems more likely, following John Paul II´s pastoral visits to Ukraine last June and to Kazakhstan and Armenia last month, according to the English-language magazine.

Russian polls reveal that nearly 60% of all Russians favor a papal visit, up 10% since before the Pope´s trip to Kazakhstan.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz added: “I believe Alexy II´s opposition to the visit is softening more and more. One year ago, we did not believe the Pope could even go to Ukraine or Kazakhstan. What has just happened is already a sort of miracle in our times.”

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