Vatican Sees Signs of Hope in Ties with Moscow Patriarchate

Aide Says There Is a Process of «Clarification»

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2003 ( The Vatican sees hope for an improvement in relations with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow.

Father Jozeph Maj, official of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who is in charge of the section for relations with the Slav Orthodox, expressed this hope over Vatican Radio.

«Over the past year, relations have been difficult, not so much as regards the contents, but rather because of the interpretations that have been given to events,» Father Maj said.

«I am convinced that we are already in a process of clarification that will continue over the next few months,» he added.

John Paul II’s decision last February to create four dioceses in the territory of the Russian Federation was openly criticized by the Moscow Patriarchate.

Father Maj says he is confident about the future and gave as an example the «beautiful letter of congratulations that the patriarch sent to the Holy Father for Christmas, in which he said: ‘Let us take up again relations of fraternity and charity.'»

In regard to a possible papal visit to Russia, the Vatican representative said the Holy Father would be delighted. But what is needed, the priest said, is growth «in mutual trust, which perhaps during last year was questioned because of misunderstandings, because of a certain susceptibility due, perhaps, to a lack of reciprocal knowledge.»

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