Russia: A meeting between Benedict XVI and Alexis II "could open a new page"

Source: FSSPX News

On October 18, Mgr Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Catholic archbishop of Moscow, during a press conference at the Vatican, stated: "We are still praying for a meeting between the pope and the patriarch of Moscow, Alexis II".

Because it is certain that "the two Churches are the largest of the Christian world and, were they both united, it would be easier to meet the great challenges of today’s society". While specifying that he had no information concerning the interview, the archbishop added: "we do not know whether it will take place in Rome or Moscow or on neutral grounds."

Mgr Kondrusiewicz answered the accusation of proselytism of which the Russian Orthodox Church accuses the Catholic Church, : "We must agree on what proselytism is. If it means taking faithful from another Church in a dishonest manner, that is not our policy, nor our ambition". But "the Council of Vatican II taught us to respect the liberty of conscience, and if someone comes and tells me he wants to become a Catholic, I cannot cast him away, I must respect his will". Likewise, "we acknowledge the Russian Orthodox Church as another Church having the same sacraments as ours."

On the other hand, the archbishop spoke of the improvement in the situation of the Catholic Church in Russia where most of the clergy are of foreign origin. Permanent visas are a little more easily granted to the foreign religious who serve the 200 registered Catholic parishes and some 300 undeclared "pastoral places". Mgr Kondrusiewicz specified that 25% of the registered parishes however do not have a church ; "thus in Moscow, Masses are celebrated in private homes, at the U.S. or German embassies". He also recalled that the number of Catholics in Russia varied according to sources from 600,000 to 1,5 million faithful.