Patriarch Alexiy May Meet with Pope of Rome

PETROZAVODSK, June 4 (Itar-Tass) - Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexiy II does not exclude a meeting with Pope of Rome John Paul II.

The Patriarch made the statement at a news conference in Petrozavodsk on Sunday when replying to an Itar-Tass question about relations with the Roman-Catholic Church in view of the 2,000 jubilee of Christianity.

"I do not have personal relations with him, but we are in correspondence with each other. I do not think that our meeting should take place simply in front of cameras. It must be well- prepared and yield concrete positive results. Back in 1997 we planned to sign a declaration at such a meeting to outline factors hampering the development of our relations," the Patriarch said.

Alexiy II regrets the striving of the Roman-Catholic Church to win over as many people as possible on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church. "We are witnessing a certain expansion of the Roman-Catholic Church. The wound made by the ruin of three Orthodox eparchies in western Ukraine, Lvov, Ivano- Frankovsk and Ternopol, is still bleeding," he noted.

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Russian Patriarch Says much Work Before Meeting Pope

MOSCOW, June 4 (Reuters) - Patriarch Alexiy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, was quoted as saying on Sunday that he did not rule out a meeting with Pope John Paul II.

The Russian Church has played down rumours at the Vatican that a visit to Italy by President Vladimir Putin on Monday could pave the way for a meeting between the two church heads.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted Alexiy as saying that he did not rule out meeting the Pope in the foreseeable future, but that there was much work yet to be done before such a meeting could take place.

"I believe that our meeting should not simply take place in front of television cameras. It should be well prepared," Tass quoted the Patriarch as saying.

"It should have a concrete, positive result. We suggested back in 1997 that we would sign a declaration at such a meeting, in which we would discuss factors influencing our relations," he said.

The Russian Orthodox Church has criticised the Roman Catholic faith for trying to poach its believers in Russia and other former Soviet states, especially Ukraine.

No reigning Pope has visited Moscow since the Great Schism of 1054 split Eastern and Western branches of Christianity.

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Patriarch Alexiy May Meet with Pope of Rome, Reopens

PETROZAVODSK, June 4 (Itar-Tass) - Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexiy II does not exclude a meeting with Pope of Rome John Paul II.

The Patriarch made the statement at a news conference in Petrozavodsk on Sunday when replying to an Itar-Tass question about relations with the Roman-Catholic Church in view of the 2,000 jubilee of Christianity.

"I do not have personal relations with him, but we are in correspondence with each other. I do not think that our meeting should take place simply in front of cameras. It must be well- prepared and yield concrete positive results. Back in 1997 we planned to sign a declaration at such a meeting to outline factors hampering the development of our relations," the Patriarch said.