Speaking to the Italian magazine 30 Giorni (30 Days), Dominican Fr. Charles Morerod said that Pope Benedict's way of carrying out his ministry leads to his being liked by the Orthodox Church. It is a question of his being similar in nature to the Orthodox bishops, he observed.
Fr. Charles Morerod is the general secretary of the International Theological Commission and rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, known as the Angelicum, as well as a member of the joint commission for theological dialogue with the Orthodox Church for the last five years.
His commentary on the Pope's relations with the Orthodox Church came at end of an interview with 30 Giorni in which he spoke extensively about the positions of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as they approach the next round of talks about the primacy of Rome in meetings this September.
Asked if he had noticed that there was a "particular sympathy and attention" towards Pope Benedict XVI from the Orthodox Church, Fr. Morerod said it is something he has seen as he visits with representatives from different Orthodox Churches.
"They have a great esteem for him, maybe also because they see in him a monastic type of figure, and all the Orthodox bishops are monks."
Contrary to the common erroneous vision other Christian faiths have of the Pope as "everything" to Catholics, Fr. Morerod said, actually, "if the Pope does not put himself forward, if he repeats only that which he has received, if he remains a little hidden behind his ministry, this on its own helps ecumenism.
"A Pope who, in exercising his ministry, puts 'as little as possible' of his (personal considerations) into it and concentrates on the essential is destined to be liked more by the Orthodox," the Dominican priest commented.
Relations with the Russian Orthodox Church are considered to have reached a high point this year with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev's visit to the Vatican last May. The metropolitan, Patriarch Kirill's "minister of the exterior," batted around the possibility at the time of a landmark visit between the the Patriarch and the Pope.