Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Christian unity being built "brick by brick"

Following a rocky start, last week's positive meeting between the Pope and the ecumenical head of the Russian Orthodox Church has produced “great feelings of hope”.

Catholic World News reports Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensek compared the ecumenical exchanges with the Holy Father to “building a great church brick by brick.”

The President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity Cardinal Walter Kasper also engaged in discussion with the Russian prelate.

While details of the meeting were not revealed, Kirill said each meeting brought the two denominations closer.

“Each time we lay the next stone, we draw nearer to the completion of the extraordinary building that is Christian unity,” Kirill said.

Prior to his visit, Kirill had sounded much less hopeful about the prospects for ecumenical progress.

He had said that the Catholic Church should downgrade the canonical status of the four Catholic dioceses established in Russia in 2002, and that the Moscow patriarchate would never recognize Catholic dioceses on Russian soil.

But after his meeting with Pope Benedict the Orthodox leader changed his tune saying the trend in Catholic-Orthodox relations is "very positive" and he hopes for substantial progress to come.