Meeting with Pope Possible in "Foreseeable Future" -Alexy II

MOSCOW, June 5 (Itar-Tass) - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All  Russia did not rule out a meeting with Pope John Paul II "in the foreseeable future".

He believes it should "bring a concrete positive result and improve  relations between the Churches rather than be just a meeting before cameras".

Alexy II told Itar-Tass on Monday that proselytising -- that is  conversion of people living in traditional Orthodox areas, including in Western Ukraine  into another faith -- is the main obstacles to the development of relations between the  Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican.

The patriarch expressed the hope that the Vatican will respect the  canonical rights of the Moscow Patriarchate which has been operating in these areas for hundreds of years.

"This problem is first of all the question of principles of Christian  morale and ethics of mutual respect", he said.

In 1997, the leaders of the two Churches were expected to sign a declaration condemning the practice of prozelitising. However, the meeting was  cancelled after the Vatican had refused to include this provision into the document.


(c) 1996-2000 ITAR-TASS. All rights reserved.