Cardinal Kasper Traveling to Moscow on Positive Note

Plans to Meet Catholic Community and Orthodox Patriarch

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2004 ( A Vatican official will travel to Moscow on Tuesday in the context of ecumenical dialogue and at the invitation of the Catholic bishops’ conference of the Russian Federation.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will be accompanied by Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the council, and Father Jozef Maj, an aide from the dicastery’s Eastern Section.

«This meeting with the cardinal is of utmost importance for the Russian bishops, but also for the priests, the religious and our faithful; it is a sign of hope for us all,» the president of the Russian Catholic episcopate, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of the diocese of the Mother of God, said today on Vatican Radio.

During the visit, Cardinal Kasper will be received in audience by Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow, the Vatican press office announced Jan. 22.

Plans are being made for a meeting with Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, president of the Department for External Ecclesiastical Relations of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, in regard to ecumenical dialogue between the two Churches.

Commenting on the visit from the ecumenical point of view, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said that «every path, no matter how long it is, begins with a first and small step. We pray precisely for this: Yesterday we prayed in the cathedral and we pray every day to stimulate the development of these relations.»

The archbishop referred to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity held last month. «Our Orthodox brothers were in our cathedrals,» he said. «A beautiful prayer was also organized in St. Petersburg, which was attended by representatives of the other Churches and Christian communities, in addition to the Orthodox. This is important.»

He also noted that a delegation of the Patriarchate of Moscow was present for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s pontificate, «speaking beautiful words of appreciation for the service rendered by the Holy Father. These are very important signs.»

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