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    VATICAN SEEKS CO-OPERATION WITH RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

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    MOSCOW, February 17, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - The Vatican is seeking to maintain co-operation with the Russian Orthodox Church in consolidating universal Christian values in Europe, said visiting Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

    We do not want polemic, we seek friendship between the two Churches, the cardinal said on Tuesday.

    The Catholic Church holds the Russian Orthodox Church, its cultural traditions and Christian heritage in high esteem. It is seeking to establish friendly relations between the Churches.

    Cardinal Kasper said he was happy to be visiting Moscow for the fourth time. He said he had arrived in Moscow at the invitation of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia to meet the community of Russian Catholic believers and to pay homage to the Russian Orthodox Church.

    He said his visit would hopefully help turn over a new leaf in the two Churches' relations, and it would be a leaf of friendship and love.

    Despite scores of superstitions, the Catholic Church regards the Russian Orthodox Church as its sister church and is seeking co-operation with it, emphasised the cardinal.

    The Foreign Church Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchy said the possibility of holding a meeting between the cardinal and the Russian Orthodox Church leader was being discussed. Thus far the cardinal is scheduled to meet Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who is also a member of the Foreign Church Relations Department. The meeting will be held behind closed doors.

    Metropolitan Kirill and Cardinal Kasper have met in talks several times as respective spokesmen for the Moscow Patriarchy and the Vatican. However, this will be their first meeting in Moscow.

    The church officials will try to settle the problems facing their Churches. The Orthodox Church is concerned about the Catholic Church's missionary activities in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States among the people who were either baptised into Orthodoxy or belong to Orthodoxy due their cultural tradition.

    Greek Catholics hinder the development of Orthodoxy in western Ukraine, which also causes grave concerns of the Russian Church. Moreover, Greek Catholics are trying to papalise in the south and east of Ukraine, in Russia and Kazakhstan. The Moscow Patriarchy knows that they are pressing the Vatican for the transfer of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church cathedra from Lvov to Kiev and for ordaining the Greek Catholic Church leader patriarch.

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