The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II believes that the Orthodox and Roman Catholics "should co-operate to overcome the problems both Churches are facing, first of all, the problem of proselytism." Patriarch said this during a meeting with a delegation of Catholic priests and laymen from the Italian diocese of Camerino-San Severino-Marche headed by Archbishop Angelo Fagiani, held in the Moscow Patriarchate's Department of External ecclesiastical relations on August 22.
Alexis II noted that in spite of the current complications in the Orthodox-Catholic relations, the Russian Orthodox Church maintains "good relations with single dioceses, monasteries, parishes, and schools of the Roman Catholic Church". The Patriarch expressed "his deep regret" that "the two Churches' formal relations have known better times".
The Russian Patriarch recalled that the decision to establish Catholic dioceses in Russia this February had seriously complicated the two Churches' relations". "We appraise this decision as a non-brotherly and unfriendly one, aimed in reality at further expansion of Catholic missionary activities in our country," the Patriarch said.
"The Vatican's policy of this kind is not confined to Russia, but is also implemented in Ukraine, where most believers are members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)", the Patriarch stressed.
"Our Church," he said, "cannot regard the aforesaid actions of the Vatican, as an internal affair of the Catholic Church". According to Alexis II, "the most flagrant form of proselytism is the missionary work among children, conversing into Catholicism orphans, many of whom were Orthodox by baptism."