Exclusive: Orthodox leader urges Vatican to resolve dispute
By Philip Pullella | Reuters – 23 hrs ago
ROME (Reuters) – A senior leader of the Russian Orthodox Church on Monday called on the Vatican to do more to resolve outstanding disputes so that a meeting between Pope Benedict and the Russian Patriarch could take place.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan (Archbishop) Hilarion, urged the Vatican to show “some signs” of readiness to resolve a decades-long conflict between Orthodox and Catholics in Ukraine that has been blocking a meeting of the two world religious leaders.
An unprecedented meeting between Benedict and Patriarch Kirill could begin to heal the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in the Great Schism of 1054.
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the Russian Orthodox Church has accused Catholics of using their new freedoms to poach souls from the Orthodox, a charge the Vatican denies.
[Pay attention:] But the biggest bone of contention concerns the fate of many church properties that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered confiscated from Eastern Rite Catholics, who worship in an Orthodox rite but owe their allegiance to Rome.
Stalin gave the property to the Russian Orthodox Church but after the fall of communism, the Eastern Rite Catholics took back more than 500 churches, mostly in Western Ukraine. [Get that? The property was taken from Catholics by Stalin. Stalin gave it to the Orthodox. At the fall of the Soviet regime, Catholics got their property back. But Hilarion wants the Catholics to give the property to the Orthodox, or there can’t be a meeting with the Pope. Did I get that right? Am I wrong?]
“Not very much was done or is being done in order to solve this problem,” said Hilarion, who is head of the external relations department of the 165-million-member Russian Orthodox Church and one of the closest aides to Patriarch Kirill.
“As soon as we have this understanding, we will be ready to begin preparations for such a meeting,” he said. [So, it’s about the money?]
Hilarion said the dispute remained the major problem in Catholic-Orthodox relations and the main obstacle to a meeting.
Read the rest there.
I really hope there can be a meeting. I really do.
But… are these the proper conditions for a meeting?