Papal envoy invited to Moscow

 Pope Benedict is sending his foreign minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo to Moscow, to discuss the possibilities of exchanging ambassadors with Russia. Archbishop Lajolo was invited by his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. The visit is being viewed by commentators as a positive development in relations between the Vatican and Moscow. Discrete diplomatic contacts were restored between Rome and Moscow after an historic visit to the Vatican by former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989. However the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, was critical of Pope John Paul II, accusing him of poaching converts when he established Catholic dioceses inside traditionally Orthodox territories in Russia. Since the election of Pope Benedict this year, both sides have seemed more amenable to dialogue. Pope Benedict has repeatedly stated that the promotion of Christian unity one of the main goals of his pontificate. During his visit to Moscow, Archbishop Lajolo will meet members of the Russian parliament as well as his counterpart in the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kirill. Cardinal Walter Kasper told reporters yesterday that a theological dialogue between the two churches would be resuming, after a break of four years, with a meeting in Rome in December. Source: VIS/Fides

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