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    Pope, Russian Patriarch could meet in a year in Baku

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    The heads of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches could meet in a year in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, church representatives said on Monday.

    BAKU, November 10 (RIA Novosti) - The heads of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches could meet in a year in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, church representatives said on Monday.

    "Important issues are being discussed to ensure a historic meeting between Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Benedict XVI," Bishop Alexander of Baku and the Near Caspian said.

    He said that the meeting could take place within the framework of an international religious forum slated for October 30-November 2, 2009 in Baku. Both Alexy II and Benedict XVI have been invited to attend.

    Yan Chapla, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Azerbaijan, said serious preparations were needed to ensure such a meeting went ahead, adding that "we hope that the meeting in Baku will eventually take place."

    Last month the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia said current disagreements between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches were preventing him from meeting the Pope.

    He also said, however, that the two churches have run a number of successful projects as part of their UN activities and collaboration with other international organizations.

    The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, earlier accused the Vatican of trying to win new converts in post-Soviet countries regarded by the Russian Church as historically Orthodox.

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