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    JOINT WORKING GROUP TO SOLVE INTER-CHURCH RELATIONS PROBLEMS

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    MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti correspondent Olga Lipich) - The Moscow Patriarchate and Vatican are setting up a joint working group to handle specific problems in the two churches' relations.

    The group "is to look at each problem in detail, and put forth proposals on how to settle them," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told RIA Novosti. Father Vsevolod is deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's external relations department.

    According to him, it was agreed upon at the Moscow talks between Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who heads the department, and papal emissary, cardinal Walter Kasper, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

    The other important outcome of Thursday's meeting, Chaplin went on to say, was that the Catholic side confirmed the Pontifical Throne's commitment to maintain and develop friendly relations with the Russian orthodox Church, "despite the attempts by certain forces to continue Catholic expansion in areas predominantly populated by Orthodox Christians." According to him, Kasper admitted that the Vatican had received the letter laying out the Russian Orthodox Church's position in the idea of establishing a Greek Catholic (Uniate) Patriarchate in Ukraine; they also duly received the opinions of local Orthodox Church heads on the issue.

    All of the world's 15 Orthodox Churches expressed protest against a Greek Catholic (Uniate) Patriarchate established in Kiev.

    Chaplin also reported that Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II was due to meet Cardinal Kasper on Monday.

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