Archbishop Giorgio Zur, the papal nuncio in Russia, confirmed that the visit by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, would not take place. Just yesterday the Vatican had announced that Cardinal Kasper still intended to visit Moscow, despite the clear evidence of deteriorating relations between the Holy See and the Moscow patriarchate.
Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, the chief spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church on ecumenical affairs, said the visit by Cardinal Kasper would be useless, since "we have nothing to say to each other." Metropolitan Kirill also told Russian reporters that although he has met repeatedly with Pope John Paul II and other Catholic leaders, he had heard "many promises, never kept."
However, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of the newly established Moscow archdiocese pointed out that the cancellation of the latest meeting between Catholic and Orthodox officials falls into a pattern. In recent years, he told the Fides news service, the Moscow patriarchate has repeatedly postponed or cancelled ecumenical discussions.
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz complained that his Orthodox counterparts have frequently lodged charges against Catholics-- for "proselytizing," for example-- but refused to allow Catholics an opportunity to answer the charges. "But in this way dialogue becomes impossible," the archbishop said.