Thursday, December 20, 2007

Russian Patriarch: Solve Orthodox Disputes Before Dialogue With Rome:

Moscow, Dec. 19, 2007 ( - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II believes that the world's Orthodox leaders should settle their internal disputes before proceeding with ecumenical talks with the Catholic Church, the Interfax news agency reports.

During a meeting in Moscow with the Czech Orthodox Metropolitan Christopher, Patriarch Alexei expressed concern that the last two meetings of a joint Catholic-Orthodox theological commission have been marred by disagreements among the Orthodox representatives.

This year, Russian Orthodox officials walked out of the joint commission meeting in Ravenna, Italy, in a protest over the seating of a delegation from the Estonian Orthodox Church. The Moscow patriarchate does not recognize the Estonian Orthodox Church.

"We think such issues ought to be settled in dialogue [among Orthodox leaders] and not discussed in the presences of the Catholics," Patriarch Alexei said.

The walkout in Ravenna marked the second consecutive time that the Russian Orthodox delegation has sparked a dispute at a meeting of the joint Catholic-Orthodox commission. During the last previous meeting, the Russian delegates protested a statement which, they argued, implied that the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople held a position analogous to that of the Roman Pontiff, as the acknowledged leader of the Orthodox world.

In the Ravenna meeting, the Russian Orthodox delegates were again challenging the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople, since it was the Ecumenical Patriarch who had recognized the canonical independence of the Estonian Orthodox Church.

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