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Kasper Asks Moscow Patriarch For Ecumenical Dialogue

2009-04-02

Card. Walter Kasper
President, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
He has assured me that he wants to continue the dialogue as we have been doing, especially the dialogue on social issues in Europe, also Christian values un Europe.  This is his concern.  I added that we must also talk about ecumenism, about unity of the Church, because these values are the foundation of the common faith, and we must talk about this.  He agreed.  


Cardinal Kasper brought Kirill I a chalice on behalf of Benedict XVI.  It’s a symbolic gift of the sign that one day the two can celebrate mass together.   

The new patriarch of Moscow was the most favorable of the three candidates for dialogue between Russian Orthodox and Catholics. He sent a message to the Pope, in which he assured his hopes for improved relations between Rome and Moscow.   But for the moment, there are no indications of a meeting between Kirill I and the Pope. 


Card. Walter Kasper
President, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Metropolitan Kirill, now Patriarch Kirill, has been to Rome three times during the current pontificate.  So he has shown that he is open to Rome, but on the other hand does not depend on all these personal relationships.  There are also institutional interests, and now as Patriarch he must keep in mind Orthodox groups that are in Russia.  He must maintain unity within his church in Russia, this is normal.

The Catholic and Orthodox churches split in 1054.  They had no official dialogue until January of 1964, when Pope Paul VI met with Athenagoras I, the Patriarch of Constantinople.  Gestures of friendship and cordiality between the two churches have grown during the 45 years since that first meeting.  


Card. Walter Kasper
President, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
I think we are on the path toward unity, but it can also be a long way.  But you can see that the Ecumenical Patriarch was in Rome three times during the past year.  We’ve never seen anything like it in 2,000 years. 


Much remains to be done, but both sides are determined to solve the theological and practical problems that separate them.  

Card. Walter Kasper
President, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
What is missing first and foremost for unity between the churches is acknowledgement of the primacy of Rome.  But there are also other problems.  I think it’s not just a theological problem, but also a cultural problems.  They are two cultures, and it’s not enough to reach a consensus between the leaders.  The people must also be involved.  

Official delegations of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches will meet again in October, to study life using the universal primacy of the Bishop of Rome during the first millennium.  The Russian Orthodox Church has not confirmed its participation at the event.   For this reason, the cardinal is asking for help from Catholics around the world.  

Card. Walter Kasper
President, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Prayer is the most important thing, because those who pray with us for unity are my most important collaborators.  

Thanks to this help, the cardinal says that he is optimistic and hopeful about the future for relations between Orthodox and Catholics.  


JMB/DDS