Catholic / Orthodox Relations
Navarro-Valls Confident: Pope Will Meet Orthodox Primate, 5/26/2002
Sofia - The long-awaited meeting between Pope John Paul II and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II is increasingly likely to occur, according to the Pope's press spokesman.
Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters that "everything points in that direction" as the Pope concluded a visit to Bulgaria. He observed that the Pontiff had been warmly greeted by Orthodox officials there, and "you cannot ignore that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is aligned with the Patriarchate of Moscow."

The Vatican spokesman acknowledged that "things have to change, in a positive way," before the Russian Orthodox leadership would welcome a visit by Pope John Paul. Patriarch Alexei II has held out against a "summit meeting," because of his complaints about Vatican policy regarding the Eastern churches.

Nevertheless, Navarro-Valls concluded: "We are waiting for the meeting, in the more or less long term, but we hope that it will come quickly."