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Russian Orthodox opposing invitation for Pope to visit Serbia?

September 05, 2011

Serbian Orthodox officials are considering an invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to join in celebrations marking the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan. Although Russian Orthodox Church leaders have officially expressed no opinion on the question, informed observers say that Moscow officials are lobbying against an invitation the idea.

The Serbian Orthodox Church plans a major celebration in Nis, the birthplace of the Emperor Constantine, in 2013. (Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, proclaiming religious freedom in the Roman empire.) The celebrations have been seen as a possible opportunity for a face-to-face meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow.

Metropolitan Hilarion, the top ecumenical officer of the Russian Orthodox Church, says that Moscow will take no position on a possible invitation to the Roman Pontiff. “It is an internal matter for the Serbian patriarchate,” he says.


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