Meeting between Moscow Catholic bishop and Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow cancelled


Disappointment and questions have followed the cancellation of a meeting between Moscow’s new Catholic bishop and the Patriarch of Moscow, AsiaNews reports.

Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, the new archbishop of the Moscow-based Archdiocese of the Mother of God at Moscow, on Wednesday was to meet with Alexy II, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.  The patriarchate itself announced the postponement of the meeting.

Catholic leaders did not provide any explanation for the meeting’s postponement. 

"We had great hope in this meeting", a priest in Moscow told AsiaNews.  "We hoped that it might be not simply a courtesy visit, but the chance for a fraternal and constructive discussion of the problems that concern our faithful."

Meeting plans included requesting support from the patriarch in acquiring visas for foreign religious and requesting the inclusion of the Catholic Church in the interreligious council of Russia.  It was hoped that the meeting would clarify some Orthodox bishops’ positions about the abolition of the Catholic dioceses in Russia.  Collaboration on social and charitable projects was also planned to be discussed.

Archbishop Pezzi’s decision not to be in Moscow for Easter has also provoked questions.

The archbishop decided to celebrate the feast in Kalingrad, the westernmost diocese of the country.  Some of the faithful say this Easter would be the first time since 1991 that the bishop has not been present in his diocese for the feast day.  The apostolic nuncio Archbishop Mennini will reportedly take his place.

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