Mar. 1, 2007 (CWNews.com) - A Russian Orthodox prelate has told reporters that a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) and Russian Patriarch Alexei II could take place this year.

Bishop Hilarion of Vienna, who is representating the Moscow patriarchate at a planning meeting for the joint Catholic-Orthodox commission on theological dialogue, said that a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch would be likely to take place at a “neutral” location, rather than in Russia or Italy.

“It is difficult for me to say when such a meeting could take place,” said Bishop Hilarion. “I think that it could happen shortly, should there be a mutual desire to meet and a common understanding of the fundamental questions.”

For several years, Catholic officials have sought a “summit meeting” between the Russian Patriarch and the Pope. Although concrete plans have been discussed on several occasions, in each case the Moscow patriarchate broke off the discussions, saying that a meeting could not take place until the Vatican renounced “proselytism” by Catholic clerics in traditionally Orthodox lands such as Russia and Ukraine.

Bishop Hilarion told reporters, however, that the prospects for a meeting are now better. “Dialogue is moving forward,” he said, on the issues that have caused disagreements between Rome and Moscow. “We are moving in the right direction,” he said.

The Orthodox bishop added that while a first meeting would probably take place outside Russia, he saw a later papal visit to Moscow as a possibility. “Alexei has said many times that a papal visit to Russia is possible,” Bishop Hilarion.

The Russian prelate said that he had no way of knowing whether President Vladimir Putin will invite the Pope to visit Moscow when Putin travels to Rome for a meeting with Benedict XVI on March 13.

Bishop Hilarion noted that another major event in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue will take place in October of this year, when the joint commission for theological dialogue meets in Ravenna, Italy. He said that Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople will attend that meeting.

The Vatican has not confirmed the Pope’s participation in the Ravenna talks. Informed sources have reported that Patriarch Bartholomew asked the Pontiff to join him in attending the October meeting, when the two men met in Turkey last November 30. Pope Benedict reacted favorably to the idea, the sources say.


Teachings of Christ

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Lamb and Redeemer

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 praise You in song: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Random Proverb

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived. All this is enough to stir the pity of men who have learnt the love of Christ; but, compared with the actual state of things, words fall very far short....

Saint Basil the Great
(Letter 90)