Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian, 15 Mar 04
BBC Monitoring Service UK, in English, Mar 15, 2004
MOSCOW - The Russian Orthodox Church has denied rumours that a meeting is
being prepared between the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksiy II and
Pope John Paul II in Poland in the summer of next year.
Yesterday Primate of Poland Cardinal Jozef Glemp said that such a meeting
was possible, as the Pope is planning to visit Poland next year, and
Patriarch Aleksiy could be invited at the same time.
However, the Moscow patriarchate does not consider it possible to draw such
conclusions. "Naturally, there is no accord, as a meeting between the
Patriarch and the Pope depends not on the dates of visits to a country
coinciding, but is a matter of principle, Father Mikhail Dudko, official
spokesman for the Russian church, told Interfax today.
"For the Moscow patriarchate," he added, "there are many issues of
principle, on the resolution of which by the Catholic side our decisions of
principle depend, including the issue of a meeting between the Patriarch and
His Holiness the Patriarch, Father Mikhail told the agency, has already said
many times that these issues include the problem of Orthodox believers being
oppressed by Greek Catholics [Catholics of the eastern rites] in Ukraine and the conversion of Orthodox believers to Catholicism, or proselytism, which
is practised by Catholics on the canonical territory of the Russian church.
"If these fundamental problems are resolved, then the issue of a meeting
between the Patriarch and the Pope will go on the agenda. If these
fundamental issues are not resolved, then a coincidence of dates for visits
will not be a pretext for such a meeting," Father Mikhail said.
For his part, the Russian church's acting secretary for interdenominational
relations, Father Igor Vyzhanov, told Interfax that for the moment nothing
is known about the possibility of the Patriarch visiting Poland.
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