Meeting between Pope, Russian Orthodox leader unlikely, says Vatican envoy

.- A high-ranking Vatican envoy yesterday praised progress in the Holy See's cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church, but indicated that its leaders will likely not hold a meeting any time soon.

"We established a heartfelt mutual understanding between our churches, and we see in this a source for future cooperation," said Cardinal Renato Martino of his meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, reported the News Russia Web site.

Pope Benedict XVI has pledged to make healing strained ties with the Orthodox Church a fundamental commitment. When journalists asked if a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II was imminent, Cardinal Martino said: "We begin with small steps."

Cardinal Martino, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, noted that the two churches have similar positions on social issues and that a conference on that subject could be held by delegates of both churches.

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