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    MOSCOW, February 22, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Olga Lipich) - Patriarch Alexy II and Cardinal Walter Casper are discussing the problems the two Churches are facing: missionary activities of Catholics among the Orthodox population of Russia and the CIS and expansion of Greek Catholics in Ukraine, which hinders normal functioning the canonic Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

    On Shrove Sunday, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II received a delegation of Vatican headed by cardinal Walter Casper, chairman of the papal council for Christian unity, in his working residence in Chisty Pereulok.

    "I am glad to welcome the delegation of the Roman Catholic Church," the Patriarch said. He expressed regret that in recent years relations between the two Churches "have not been developing too well".

    "I believe that we both want to discuss these problems and find a way to solve them," the Patriarch added.

    The meeting with Alexy II is also attended by papal nuncio (Vatican's Ambassador) archbishop Antonio Mennini.

    Vatican delegations of this level have repeatedly met the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church even before. For example, a few years ago Alexy II received Casper's predecessor cardinal Cassidy. This had been before Vatican intensified missionary activities on the territory of the Russian Orthodox Church and established four Catholic episcopates in Russia in February 2002, which aroused a serious scandal.