Kirill Notes Hope to Team With Benedict XVI

Long-Awaited Pope-Patriarch Meeting Foreseen

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MOSCOW, FEB. 4, 2009 ( Patriarch Kirill expressed a desire to cooperate with Benedict XVI, bridging the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches, in order to promote Christian values to the world.

The Moscow patriarchate reported Tuesday on its Web site that Patriarch Kirill affirmed «the hope that relations between the two Churches would further develop in an atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation, primarily in defending and asserting the traditional Christian values in Europe and in the world as a whole.»

He noted the similarity in positions held by the Orthodox and Catholic Churches regarding many issues in contemporary society, and stated the hope that this will be the groundwork for cooperation.

Regarding a long-awaited meeting between the Pope and patriarch, a Russian Orthodox official said that there are no «principled obstacles» to it, but that he doubts it could happen as early as 2009.

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy head of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, said that it «is possible to reach an agreement [between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church] even today, but unfortunately it will take time,» the Russian Interfax news service reported.

Archpriest Chaplin contended that both the patriarch and the Pope are not primarily concerned about «human feelings» but about the «preservation of the belief, unity and peace» of their Churches.

«Therefore the power of the patriarch, despite its external volume, is restricted by a great number of factors, primarily the opinions of the believers, the clergy and the bishops,» he said.
As metropolitan and president of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, Kirill met for the first time with Benedict XVI shortly after his papal installation in April 2005. They met again in May 2006 and Dec. 2007.

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