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    HEAD OF PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY CARDINAL WALTER KASPER TO VISIT MOSCOW

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    MOSCOW, February 17. (RIA Novosti correspondent) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, will arrive in Moscow on Tuesday. He is coming at the invitation of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia to meet with the Russian Catholics' commune.

    Deputy chairman of the Foreign Church Relations Department (OVCS) of the Moscow Patriarchy archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin noted in the interview with RIA Novosti that "the question of the Cardinal's meeting with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II is being considered." According to him, only a closed meeting of the Cardinal with chairman of the OVCS Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kirill is planned for the time being (February 19).

    "Metropolitan Kirill and Cardinal Kasper are official partners in the talks between the Moscow Patriarchy and the Vatican City. The essence of the talks is to resolve the problems existing between the two Churches," Chaplin said.

    According to him, "the first problem is Catholics' missionary activity in Russia and the other CIS countries among the people belonging to Orthodoxy through baptism or in line with tradition." The second problem is the expansion of the Greco-Roman Church in these countries.

    "There is no direct physical violence in the West of Ukraine now but the oppressed position of the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UPC) persists, and this situation must be remedied," the Moscow Patriarchy's representative stated. In particular, today " the UPC communes cannot receive land for building churches." "The Greco-Catholics also try to artificially implant a union in the South and East of Ukraine and even in Russia and Kazakhstan. Besides that, calls for establishing a Greco-Roman Patriarchy in Kiev are voiced," Chaplin stressed.

    According to him, the Moscow Patriarchy expects from the Vatican City "renunciation of the missionary expansion in Russia and other countries of the Orthodox tradition." "The dialogue never discontinued, and I hope that it will develop and lead to acceptable decisions sooner or later," the Mocow Patriarchy representative concluded.

    For his part, priest Yusef Mai in charge of relations with the Russian Orthodox Church (RPC) in the Pontifical Council who will accompany Cardinal Kasper during the trip, told the RIA Novosti correspondent by telephone that "relations between the two Churches have clearly intensified of late, the very atmosphere of the dialogue has perceptibly improved, and mutual trust has grown stronger." "We hope for opening new vistas for development of relations between our Churches both at the local and international level,' he said.

    As RIA Novosti learnt from informed sources in Rome, in the course of his Moscow visit Cardinal Kasper will try to convince the RPC Supreme Authority that the Vatican City does not plan to impart the Kiev Patriarchy status to the Ukrainian Greco-Roman Church."

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