Relations between Russian Church, Vatican have potential, says Alexy II

.- A positive step was made this week in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church during a meeting between Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, and Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The two churches’ positions on key contemporary issues coincide, and there are many avenues for cooperation, the patriarch said.

According to a report by Interfax, Alexy II said he is "convinced that good relations and mutual support will contribute to the further development of cooperation on key modern issues between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church."

The two prelates met at St. Daniil Monastery, the patriarch’s residence in Moscow, on Monday at the initiative of the patriarch. The high-ranking delegation led by the cardinal arrived in Moscow Sept. 29.

Cardinal Tettamanzi presented the patriarch with a silver reliquary for the ashes of St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Marcellina and Bishop St. Dionysius, as well as a collection of St. Ambrose's books in Latin and their version in Italian.

“Common worship of these martyrs will unite us and our two churches in common prayer … and serve as a bridge," the cardinal said in presenting the gift.

The patriarch expressed gratitude, saying the books “will doubtlessly prove useful to the theologians of our church.”

Alexy II also praised long-time good personal contacts between priests of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Milan archbishop's office.

Cardinal Tettamanzi expressed regret for the Roman Catholic Church's missionary activity in Russia in the 1990s, saying it may have been insulting to the Russian Orthodox Church, “which had historically and continues to have the gift to proclaim the Gospel on this earth and the mission to bear witness to it.”

“It gives us anguish to realize that some Western Christians, including Catholics, failed to discern and recognize the incomparable spiritual richness of Holy Russia and to appreciate and respect the religious and cultural heritage of the great Orthodox tradition,” the cardinal reportedly said during the meeting.

He said this activity was increased due to the initiative of various individuals from the West, but it “does not always appear proper from an ecumenical viewpoint.” He added that proselytism today “is condemned by many among not only the Orthodox but also Catholics.”

“There must be no room for confessional competition in the name of the Gospel,” the cardinal stated.

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