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Thaw in relations with Catholics - Russian Orthodox Church

Saint Peter's BasilicaMOSCOW. March 3 (Interfax) - Interaction with the Roman Catholic Church is an important aspect of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign policy, said Metropolitan Illarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's External Church Relations Department. "Our relations have become much warmer. This goes to the Moscow Patriarchate's contacts with the Holy See and relations with Catholic communities in foreign countries," Metropolitan Illarion told students of the Paris Institute of Political Studies in Moscow.

The Russian Orthodox Church's interaction with the Roman Catholic Church in France, which assisted the institution of a Russian theologian seminary outside Paris, is a vivid example of this, he said.

The two churches share positions on "liberal secularization and globalism, social and economic ethics, and family affairs and demography, Metropolitan Illarion said, according to the website of the External Church Relations Department.

"We plan to cooperate in these areas in international organizations," he said.

The Russian Orthodox Church also maintains relations with Protestant churches, although there has been a chill lately, he also said.

"Many of the protestant communities side with secular ideology in matters of theology, ecclesiology and moral teaching. Some of their denominations have blessed same-sex marriages and the ordination of persons, who openly declare their non-traditional sexual orientation," he said.

The Moscow Patriarchate has a flock of over 150 million believers in more than 60 countries. It has 164 dioceses, 217 governing and vicar hierarchs, over 30,000 priests, 30,675 parishes and 805 convents and monasteries, Metropolitan Illarion said.

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