Moscow, Mar. 5, 2007 ( - The chief ecumenical-affairs officer for the Russian Orthodox Church has remarked on a positive trend in relations between Moscow and Rome.

Speaking to the Interfax news service, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk said that “positive changes” in dealings with the Vatican had occurred during the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

One significant source of improvement in relations, the Russian prelate said, came from the fact that Pope Benedict had “removed a Moscow visit from the agenda, as he understood that such a visit would be premature.” Pope John Paul II (bio - news) had frequently expressed his desire to make a visit to Moscow.

Under Pope Benedict, said Metropolitan Kirill, the Holy See has concentrated on “cooperation between the Catholic Church and ours in defending Christian values,” particularly in calling for a moral renewal in Europe. The Russian Orthodox Church can fully endorse those plans, he said, without necessarily resolving other questions on which Moscow and Rome remain at odds.

Differences do remain, Kirill told Interfax, including some “major ones.” He complained that Catholics and Orthodox remain in conflict in the western Ukraine, for example. “Not everything goes easy,” the Russian spokesman concluded.

Teachings of Christ

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin." (Proverbs 10:10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Good and God-loving men accuse people of something bad when they are present, but when they are absent they not only refrain from accusing them, but do not permit others to do so when they attempt to speak of them.

From St. Anthony the Great (170 Texts on Saintly Life no. 30) REF: Fr. Seraphim Rose, "Letters"