Moscow, Mar. 5, 2007 (CWNews.com) - 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

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32 ESV)

Theophany

When You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

I pray Thee, compassionate Lord, do not allow me to be condemned because of the unworthy and ungrateful manner in which I contemplate the great mysteries that Thou hast revealed to Thy saints and through them to me, a sinner and Thy unworthy servant. For see, Lord, Thy servant stands before Thee, idle in everything, speechless, as one who is dead; and I do not dare to say anything more or to presumptuously contemplate further. But as always I fall down before Thee, crying from the depths of my soul. . . .

St. Peter of Damascus