Saturday, June 03, 2000

     No Visit for Pope


Relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church are too  strained to justify inviting the pope to visit, Orthodox officials  said Friday.

President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with Pope John Paul II  next week during his two-day visit to Italy.

There has been speculation in Italy that Putin might invite the pope to visit.

But the Orthodox patriarch, Alexy II, has long said that disputes  between the two churches must be resolved before any meeting with  John Paul.

Igor Vyzhanov, an Orthodox church official responsible for relations  with the Roman Catholic Church, said, "There is uncontrolled  missionary activity on Russian territory, and they're turning to  traditionally Orthodox believers."

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