CNS - When he visits Moscow later this month, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, will not be making plans for a papal visit to Russia, according to a spokesman for the Russian Catholic bishops’ conference.
Father Iglor Kovalevsky told the Interfax news service that discussion of a papal visit would be “premature” when Cardinal Parolin meets with Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. “The cardinal himself has stressed that this problem will not be discussed,” he reported.
Father Kovalevsky said that after their historic meeting in Cuba, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill might arrange another meeting in a different country. But he said that he considered it unlikely that the Pope would travel to Moscow, or the Russian Patriarch to Rome. “And there’s no need to rush things,” he added.
Several times during the pontificate of St. John Paul II, Vatican officials sought to arrange a papal visit to Russia. On each occasion, talks broke down when Orthodox officials insisted that conflicts between the two churches—in particular, disputes over the status of the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church—must be resolved before the Pope would be welcome.
Cardinal Parolin will be in Moscow from August 21 to 23. He is expected to meet privately with Patriarch Kirill and with Russian President Vladimir Putin.