Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Pope Receives Metropolitan Hilarion

The number two of the Moscow Patriarchate is at present in discussions at Castel Gandolfo.

Vatican City ( The Foreign Minister of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion, is being received in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. in Castel Gandolfo.  It was the third meeting between the two since the "Foreign Minister' took his office in February of 2009.

On the day before Hilarion had talks with the Vatican President for the Office of Christian Unity, Cardinal Koch.  That meeting dealt with the theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox as well as around questions of practical collaboration between the Churches, according to the Vatican.

On Thursday Hilarion wanted to meet additionally with Cardinal Secretary Tarcisio Bertone and the Presidents of the Vatican Council of Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi.

The relations between the Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchate have improved significantly since a frosty period in years past.  That has been significantly contributed to especially by visits and personal contacts with the Vatican Minister of Ecumenism, Cardinal Walter Kasper and -- since the Summer of 2010 -- his successor Kurt Koch.

A lowpoint had been reached in 2002, as the Vatican established Diocese in Russia.  The Orthodox accused Rome then of proselytism -- unfair missionary activity on Orthodox terrain.   Relations have improved substantially since then, especially with the election of the new Patriarch Kyrill in the beginning of 2009, relations have become much easier.

Hilarion came for an introductory visit at the beginning of 2009 in the Vatican.  On another visit in May 2010 was for a concert, which Patriarch Kyrill gave in Rome for the honor of the Pope, which was a work performed by Hilarion.

Hilarion, who led the Orthodox Community in Vienna after 2003, had a  musical education in addition to a theological one.

Two weeks ago, Metropolitan Hilarion declared in an interview in the Vatican the desire to undertake with greater effort, the open questions of serious disagreement between the two  Churches, in order to make a historical meeting between the Pope and the Moscow Patriarchate possible.  A substantial barrier to this meeting is correspondingly, the conflict between the Orthodox and the Greek-Catholic Church in the Ukraine.  "As soon as there is an understanding here, then preparations for such a meeting can begin,"  said Hilarion to the news agency Reuters.

Pope Benedict XVI himself praised the particular nearness of the Catholic to the Orthodox Churches in parts of his Germany trip.  Catholics and Orthodox had "both the same old-Church structure" and for that reason may "hope, that the day is not too late,  to celebrate a common Eucharist",  said the Pope at a meeting with representatives of the Orthodox and Ancient Oriental Churches in Germany in Freiburg.

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