Pope Benedict and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy may hold a historic meeting within a year, Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's department for Christian Unity, was quoted as saying yesterday.
It would be the first meeting between a Pope and Russian Orthodox patriarch. The Western and Eastern branches of Christianity have been split since the Great Schism of 1054.
The cardinal made the comment during a visit to the Vatican by an Orthodox bishop who has offered to try to set up the meeting.
"There is hope that Benedict and Alexy could meet within a year," Cardinal Kasper said, according to SIR. However, the meeting would depend on world events and the "internal situation" of the Russian Orthodox Church, he added.
Cardinal Kasper told reporters that Vienna has been suggested as a possible location for such a meeting.
The Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, who is visiting the Vatican, has reportedly said he would be willing to mediate between the two sides to try to arrange the meeting. He is scheduled to meet the Pope on Saturday.