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Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill: metropolitan Hilarion (Moscow), “There are no talks yet about the Pope’s coming to Moscow or the Patriarch’s coming to Rome”

“There are no talks yet about the Pope’s coming to Moscow or the Patriarch’s coming to Rome”. This is the answer of the metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, to an interview with “Interfax-Religion” that was relayed earlier today to SIR, in which he takes stock of the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Cuba. “This point – Hilarion explained – has not been discussed in the meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch”. “They talked instead about the fact – the Patriarch added – that we need to increase cooperation, to deepen mutual understanding, to try to overcome as soon as possible all the negative things that have grown in the relations between the Orthodox and the Catholic churches, and to work to make the hearts and minds meet. Then, time will tell us what to do. I think that, when the conditions are ready for another meeting, then we will decide where and when to have it. Just about this, the second most important figure of the Patriarchate of Moscow speaks of the Ukrainian problem and the “very negative” response – as he defines it – that the management of the Greek Catholic Church had to the Joint Statement signed by the two leaders of the Churches of Rome and Moscow. “The process proposed by the Pope and the Patriarch – Hilarion says – is a process of cooperation in those areas in which such cooperation is possible. It is a path of renunciation to competition and of a transition to a fraternal relationship. But – Hilarion points out – the Greek Catholics do not want this”. In the interview, Hilarion suggests that a possible way to cooperate might be through pilgrimages (as it happens already, for instance, for St Nicholas’ relics). And, as to the chance of bringing the relics of the Apostles Peter and Paul from Rome to Russia or St James’ relics from Spain, Hilarion answers: “I hope the first exchange of relics may happen as early as this year”.

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