Cardinal Koch Visits Russian Orthodox Church

Stresses Importance of Dialogue of Love

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- On Saturday, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity began a visit of great ecumenical importance to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Cardinal Kurt Koch began in Moscow the trip that will end Thursday, and will include visits to significant places of worship of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The cardinal, who is accompanied by Jesuit Father Milan Zust, will also meet the Catholic community and celebrate Mass in the Cathedral of the Mother of God in Moscow.

In an interview last week on Vatican Radio, Cardinal Koch said that in the first instance the trip is about “making contact with the Patriarchate of Moscow.”

He noted that he will have an audience with Patriarch Kirill and meetings with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, who is chairman for the patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations.

“For me it is extremely important, after the visit I made in November to Constantinople, to have personal relations,” the prelate said. “In fact, in the whole of the dialogue with the Orthodox, the dialogue of love always presupposes the dialogue of truth.”

Speaking about the history of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, the cardinal said, “From our part was the strong accentuation of the Papacy, whereas from their part was the strong development of autocephaly; a further development obviously consists in the fact that a very great part of today’s Orthodoxy lives in the diaspora in the West.”

He added, “We must examine together these new developments, so that we can reach the ultimate purpose of this dialogue, namely full ecclesial community.”

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