Delegation to Visit Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow

Will Be Headed by Cardinal Kasper

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2004 ( A Vatican delegation will visit Moscow in February to meet with Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II and the Catholic bishops of Russia.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will travel to Russia in response to an “invitation of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Russian Federation,” said a note issued today by Joaquín Navarro-Valls, director of the Vatican press office.

The note said that the cardinal “will meet with the Catholic bishops present in the Russian Federation and with the Catholic community in Moscow.” The visit is scheduled for Feb. 16-20.

The press office note continued: “During the visit, motivated by feelings of esteem for the Russian Orthodox Church, Cardinal Kasper will be received in audience by His Holiness Alexy II, patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, and will have talks with Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, and with the president of the Department for Foreign Ecclesiastical Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, in view of the ecumenical dialogue between the two Churches.”

Cardinal Kasper will be accompanied by Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the pontifical council, and Father Jozef Maj, an official in the council’s Eastern Section, the statement said.

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow has expressed, on several occasions, its opposition to John Paul II’s decision in 2002 to establish four Catholic dioceses in the Russian Federation’s territory.

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