Patriarch Alexius II of Russia (also known as Alexy II)
Zenit.org (a Vatican news source) reported the following:
ROME, FEB. 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The ice is melting in relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, and there is good will for cooperation, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Promotion Christian Unity.
In an interview with Gerard O’Connell for Our Sunday Visitor, Cardinal Walter Kasper said relations with the Russian Orthodox Church are much better than when he began as president of that Vatican dicastery. And he discussed what lies ahead on the path toward unity.
Cardinal Kasper explained…”We are of the opinion that a personal encounter between the Pope and Patriarch Alexy II would be very helpful for the further development of our relations. The Moscow Patriarchate has never in principle excluded such an encounter, but it claims that some problems have to be resolved beforehand, i.e., the problem of what they call proselytism and uniatism.
“We are working to solve these problems and we hope we are able to do so even though there are different approaches and concerns. At this moment the Moscow Patriarchate is interested in cooperating on the questions relating to the Christian roots and values of Europe”…
Cardinal Kasper clarified: “This problem is linked with the Russian Orthodox understanding of their canonical territory. The Catholic Church recognizes that Russia has a longstanding Christian tradition and culture. We recognize all the sacraments, the episcopate and the priesthood of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“Thus, while Catholic Christians living in Russia may clearly give witness of their Catholic faith, there cannot be an evangelization as such, as this can only be undertaken in a pagan context. Therefore, it is not our policy or strategy to convert the Orthodox to the Catholic Church…”
But despite work to clarify the terms, Cardinal Kasper said he has the “impression that doubts still remain, because I feel they think that there is a discrepancy between what we are saying and what we are doing”…
Still, the cardinal confirmed, the problem of uniatism still remains.
“We say that ‘uniatism,’ understood as a method, today and in the future, is no longer a means of achieving Church unity,” Cardinal Kasper said. “But the so-called uniate Churches, which emerged in the past under circumstances very different from today, are a historical reality and have a right to exist.
“But they must open themselves to ecumenical relations with the Orthodox mother Churches. As I see it, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is ready to do so, and has a good ecumenical program in the academy of Leopoli. Finally, we agreed that both sides should recognize the religious freedom of individual Christians who by reason of their conscience want to join another Church.”
While I believe that there will be increased cooperation between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, and that various prophecies indicate that some type of unity will occur between the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, it seems to be less likely that the Russian Orthodox will get quite as close to Rome as the other branches of the Orthodox churches.
Several articles of related interest may include:
Orthodox Should Pray For Truth, Not Roman Unity The Catholics want the Orthodox, but the Bible warns against this.
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics The Orthodox may be surprised to learn of several doctrines they hold that the Roman Catholics do not, but that the Living Church of God does.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Living Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Living Church of God Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Russia: Its Origins and Prophesied Future Where do the Russians come from? What is prophesied for Russia?
Europa, the Beast, and Revelation Where did Europe get its name? What might Europe have to do with the Book of Revelation? What about “the Beast”?
Asia in Prophecy What is Ahead for China? Is it a “King of the East”? What will happen to nearly all the Chinese, Russians, and others of Asia?