Pope seeks meeting with Patriarch of Moscow
June 04, 2014
Pope Francis has send a message to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, saying that he is “willing to meet at any place,” the AsiaNews service reports.
The Pope’s message to the Russian prelate was reportedly delivered personally last week by the director of the Sistine Chapel choir, which was performing in Moscow. Patriarch Kirill gave his thanks for the message, but did not reply.
The timing of the Pope’s message to Patriarch Kirill was significant, since the Pontiff met with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople during his visit to the Holy Land. The Moscow patriarchate has shown a keen sensitivity about claims that the Patriarch of Constantinople is the leader of the Orthodox world.
In the past, several attempts to arrange a meeting between the Roman Pontiff and the Patriarch of Moscow have failed, with Russian Orthodox officials invariably saying that such a “summit meeting” would be premature until existing disputes between Rome and Moscow are resolved. Those disputes have escalated in recent months, as Russian Orthodox leaders complain that Byzantine-rite Catholic leaders have incited political tensions in Ukraine. The strength of the Ukrainian Catholic Church has been a longstanding source of irritation for the Moscow patriarchate, which views Ukraine as its own “canonical territory.”