Russian Orthodox Church barrier to dialogue in East Europe, says expert

Marko Tomashek, Aid to the Church in Need’s chief Easter Europe expert, has explained that there is "a line of division" between the Russian Orthodox Church and all the other ecclesial communities and churches in the Ukraine, which was made very evident in the recent elections.

In a Vatican Radio interview on November 27, he stated that in terms of dialogue, "Catholics priests and bishops are open…to everyone - with Muslims on the Krim peninsula, with Jewish faithful, with Atheists or Orthodox. But the openness must be reciprocated,” he said.

However he said, “the Moscow Patriarchate stands increasingly isolated while all other Churches - Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Orthodox Patriarchate of Kyiv and many Protestant communities - have a different position."

Tomashek said that during the elections last week in Ukraine, this split was made more clear: "I believe that of all Churches only the Moscow Patriarchate has taken a clear position in favour of the government's candidate, even on election day.”

“One Orthodox bishop,” he said, “even went so far as to say that whoever does not vote for the government's candidate would be denied the sacraments for two months. Such action has set them apart from the other Churches.”

Concluding, he said: "I think, people have noticed this quite clearly and it will lead to interesting ecumenical and inter- Church developments, because people will now see which Church is upholding general moral principles and which Church is promoting the interests of particular parties."

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