The Russian Orthodox Church is ready to negotiate a possible meeting between the Pontiff and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; however, this meeting should not turn into a mere protocol event in front of TV cameras.
This was disclosed to reporters at a New York news conference today by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who heads the department of external church relations, and who arrived in the United States to attend celebrations in connection with the 100th anniversary of the St. Nicholas Cathedral.
In 1996 the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican agreed to hold a meeting between Patriarch Alexis II and Pope John Paul II, Metropolitan Kirill reminded his audience. Everything was ready for that meeting; the Pope and the Patriarch were to have signed a joint declaration for the sake of closing an involved chapter in our relations. However, the Vatican omitted those specific provisions, on which the future of our relations depends, shortly before the projected meeting. Unfortunately, the meeting didn't take place for precisely this reason.
The Russian Orthodox Church perceives the condemnation of proselytizing and the Uniate concept as matters of principled importance, Metropolitan Kirill told those present. The second Vatican synod proclaimed the Russian Orthodox Church as a sister church, i.e. a religious community, which saves people, Metropolitan Kirill added.
This fundamental principle was formulated, thus making it possible to launch dialogue between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kirill stressed. We must renounce confrontation, returning to the second Vatican synod's ecclesiology once again. We want to tread the road of cooperation and interaction; at the same time, we emphatically oppose everything, which creates tensions in our relations, Metropolitan Kirill stressed in conclusion.