Pope-Russian Patriarch Meeting Possible

Cardinal Kasper Says Maybe in a Year

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Plans for a possible meeting between Benedict XVI and Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia are in the works, according to a Vatican official.



Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promotion of Christian Unity, said today that "there's hope that Benedict XVI and Alexy II may meet within one year," reported the Italian bishops' SIR news agency.

The cardinal was speaking at a ceremony at the Pontifical Urbanian University to confer an honorary degree in missiology to Chrysostom II, archbishop primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

Cardinal Kasper said of the possible meeting between the Pope and Alexy II: "It will largely depend on some external circumstances and on the internal situation of the Russian Church.

"The Pope would like to have this meeting, and Alexy II, too, is open to that. No one is against the meeting, not even the Orthodox faithful."

Benedict XVI will receive Archbishop Chrysostom II in a private audience Saturday.

In an interview granted to the weekly Italian newspaper L'Expresso, the Orthodox archbishop confirmed the possibility of a meeting between Benedict XVI and Alexy II.

"Clearly, this is not a meeting that can be organized in 24 hours," he affirmed. "Before it takes place, delegates have to be sent, theologians have to be put to work. Clearly, there is a lot of preparation needed for the meeting to be successful."

"I am willing to offer my help," the Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus said. "I would do whatever is in my power so that the meeting between them and their respective Churches takes place."

"I am a good friend of his," he added. "I think I could say safely that, on his part, this will not be a problem. Where there is good will, obstacles can be overcome."