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Warmer Rome-Moscow relations produce new talk of Pope- Patriarch 'summit meeting'

Catholic World News - November 13, 2013

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill expressed high hopes for the future of relations between Moscow and Rome after a November 12 meeting with Milan’s Cardinal Angelo Scola.

The Russian primate expressed his admiration for Pope Francis, and said that “never before have our churches had so many things in common.” He looked forward to a time when ‘our historical disagreements cease to play a critical role.”

In Rome, meanwhile, after meeting with Pope Francis, Metropolitan Hilarion, the top ecumenical officer of the Moscow Patriarchate disclosed that negotiations have begun to arrange a meeting between the Pope and Patriarch Kirill “in a neutral country.” Efforts to arrange such a ‘summit meeting’ were made several times during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, but foundered when the Russian Orthodox Church demanded concessions from the Vatican as a precondition for the meeting.

Metropolitan Hilarion also spoke of the warmth in current relations between Moscow and Rome. Speaking in Rome, he observed that Pope Francis has voiced his appreciation for the Orthodox tradition, especially in the reverence of the Eastern liturgy and the understanding of episcopal collegiality.

In his discussions with reporters in Rome, Metropolian Hilarion declined to address questions about the Pope’s November 23 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That visit, he said, would be “a visit of the head of state, which does not affect the relations between the churches.” In Moscow, Cardinal Scola sounded a similar note, saying that the Catholic and Orthodox churches do not need “political mediation” to further their ecumenical ties.

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