#15 - JRL 7228
June 18, 2003
Relations Between Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church Problematic
The Tatarstan Republic president believes someone in Russia does not want the Pope to come to Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its dissatisfaction about Tatarstan president's attempts to speed up the dialogue between the Moscow Patriarchy and the Vatican. Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy chairman of the foreign relations department of the Moscow Patriarchy said: "The dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church does not need any mediators."
On June 16, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev set out his regret about the fact that there were certain difficulties for John Paul II to visit Russia. "Some people in Russia do not want the Pope to visit Russia, and the Tatarstan republic in particular. One will have to start the dialogue between the two churches someday - the sooner the better," Shaimiyev said.
Vsevolod Chaplin pointed out in this respect that the "Russian Orthodox Church has always maintained a permanent contact with the Vatican, but there are certain problems for the meeting to take place." The clergyman added that the problems had been set up by Catholic structures.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksey II, told reporters back in September of 2002 that he thought the Vatican ignored both the Russian Church and the Orthodox culture. Aleksey II's interview was published in the Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana in the beginning of September, and the patriarch clearly expressed his stance regarding the activities of the Roman Catholic Church. Aleksey II said, if the Vatican wanted to ameliorate the relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, it would have to turn down the policy of "pressure and single-handed decisions." The relations between the two churches have not improved since that time.