Cardinal Kasper in Moscow Hopes for "Small Steps" in Dialogue

To Meet With Official of Orthodox Patriarchate

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MOSCOW, JUNE 22, 2005 ( The purpose of Cardinal Walter Kasper’s visit to Moscow is to take «small steps» in the dialogue with the Orthodox Patriarchate.

Yet, «many small steps also lead you to the goal,» says the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The cardinal explained the purpose of his visit to the Russian capital, before meeting with Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, president of the Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate, during an interview with the Russian Catholic weekly Svet Evangelia.

Metropolitan Kirill attended the solemn inauguration of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, and on that occasion they had a half-hour meeting and decided to continue the dialogue on the principal differences between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

«Now we are looking to continue and even to deepen this dialogue,» said Cardinal Kasper. «In the very beginning, after his election, the Pope declared this to be his principal priority. And now we are here to see what kind of new steps we can take.

«We want to see what we can do together, to see the possibilities; it won’t be crucial steps, but small ones. Many small steps also lead you to the goal. There are two parts involved in this dialogue, and the steps should be taken from both sides.»

Explaining why he will not meet with Patriarch Alexy II on this visit, Cardinal Kasper said: «I didn’t ask him about a meeting because the work is only beginning. It’s not with all formalities, so it’s not necessary. Our goal is to discuss concrete technical things.»

During the interview, Cardinal Kasper said that the Catholic Church in Russia is involved in the dialogue process, since «without the local Church, ecumenism would be very abstract.»

«I had a very long talk with Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz,» the cardinal said. «He is informed and will be informed afterward. All the steps we have taken up to now were taken with the local Church.

«There are relations between the Holy See and Moscow Patriarchate, there are relations between the particular Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church and, clearly, both things must go together.»

The cardinal said he will not address the affairs of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church because «it’s not my task to speak about another Church, they must do it themselves; so it’s not the point of my negotiations. And, on this question, the new Pope has the same position as John Paul II.»

«We will not discuss the Ukrainians, but will discuss what the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church can do together in Europe and for Europe, for the Christian values in Europe — it is a field of common interest,» he noted.

Cardinal Kasper hopes that next fall the international dialogue can be relaunched between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and that the work of the Mixed Theological Commission be resumed, interrupted in 2001, during a meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

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