The Catholic archbishop of Moscow said on Thursday that he welcomed the Russian Orthodox patriarchate's new openness to the possibility of a papal visit to Russia.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz noted that Patriarch Aleksei's latest pronouncement on the issue this differed from his previous statements. "There's a small difference. Before, he said they couldn't meet until all the problems were resolved. Now, he's saying they can meet in order to solve the problems," he said.
The Patriarch said he would meet with Pope John Paul II, but only if there was a clear hope of resolving the differences between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Aleksei has repeatedly accused the Catholic Church of proselytizing on territory that "belongs to" the Russian Orthodox and also points to continuing arguments in Ukraine over property that was taken from the Catholics by the Soviets and given to the Orthodox five decades ago. The divisions reached a climax earlier this year when the Vatican elevated four apostolic administrations in Russia to full diocesan status.
"I have said more than once that I am prepared to meet with the Pope, but it would have to be a meeting that really allows us to solve the problems," the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper quoted Patriarch Aleksei as saying.