.- An official with the Moscow Patriarchate has reiterated its position that it is not rejecting talks between Pope Benedict XVI and the Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. However, it repeats its condition that the problems dividing the two Churches must be addressed first.
"If we forge joint decisions that will help resolve the problems dividing the two Churches, it will not be difficult to find a time and venue for such talks. Many plans have been proposed, and all of them will be assessed, of course," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion.
He said talks between the heads of both Churches “should not be merely a protocol event or an appealing picture to fill the TV screen, but help relieve believers' pain and concerns, felt in many places.”
The archpriest said that one such concern is the Greek-Catholic Church “artificially expanding its influence” and converting Orthodox Christians.
Solving such problems will open new opportunities to cooperate, the archpriest said.
According to Interfax, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in an interview with Western media that he would like the Russian Patriarch and the Pope to meet in Belarus, “in the center of Europe and at the junction of the Orthodox and Catholic religions.”