Rorate Caeli

Ecumenical breakthrough with Moscow?
An interview with the Archbishop of Cyprus

The words of the Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, in the following interview, published in the current edition of the Italian weekly L'Espresso, seem to indicate that a future meeting of Pope Benedict XVI and the Patriarch of Moscow is almost certain. The mediator is none other than Chrysostomos himself, who reveals the current positions of those involved in the ecumenical discussions.

The interviewer itself is quite ignorant of some details, including the fact that the Assisi interreligious meetings did not help at all the ecumenical relationship with the Eastern Orthodox (or discussions with Traditionalists in the Latin Church...). The main excerpts:

I will take Pope Ratzinger to Moscow

A conversation with Chrysostomos II

by Gigi Riva

The Archbishop of Cyprus speaks; the great weaver of the operation for the meeting between the two Churches; at the eve of his Vatican visit. (...)

It was necessary to go to Nicosia to find the man who will try to put Pope Benedict XVI and Russian Patriarch Alexis II one before the other. His Beatitude the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II will leave the Mediterranean island on June 12 for a journey which will take him to Rome (up to the 17th) and then to Moscow on the next day. Declared objective: to establish the bases for the historic meeting which remained in the dreams of John Paul II. (...)

Archbishop Chrysostomos II, word is spreading that you will be the mediator of the meeting between Rome and Moscow. And the itinerary of your journey is quite eloquent.

"A preamble: I myself have asked to see the pope and I thank him for the opportunity. We wish to help him in every way to improve the relationship between both Churches because we are the children of the same Father. I would be glad if he accepted the offer."

Are there conditions, today, for the meeting with Alexis II?

"Every time is a good time, because the goal is that of doing what is best for both Churches. It is clear that it is not a meeting that is assembled in 24 hours. First, it is necessary to exchange delegates, to put the theologians to work. In sum, it is necessary to prepare the event so that it will be a success. I am ready to provide my contribution. I will make what is possible to make them meet -- them and the Churches.

Have you had the chance to hear Alexis II's opinion about it?

"I am very close to him, and I am a good friend of his. I believe I can affirm that there are not any problems even for him. When there are good intentions, the obstacles are overcome."

John Paul II tried to overcome them, but found himself before unsurmountable difficulties. Moreover, he was considered as more favorable to interreligious dialogue than Pope Ratzinger. He was the one who promoted the Assisi meetings.

"During the pontificate of John Paul II, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger had maybe a different way of regarding matters. But in the present position he has another responsibility. He is the Pope. And, let us not forget it, he is a theologian Pope. He knows Greek theology well and this helps in the dialogue between the Churches. (...)

"... This is really the right time [for a reunification] for several reasons. There is a Pope who deeply knows Greek theology. On the other hand, a Patriarch of Constantinople open to ecumenical dialogue. (...) The great part of Catholics and Orthodox and inside the same common Europe. The reasons are manifold. What is important is that the reunification be not imposed from above, but shared by the people, by the faithful, so that it may be complete and may work."

SEE ALSO: For the current situation of the theological discussions between Catholics and Orthodox, as seen by the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in the debate, Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, read a recent interview granted by him to INTERFAX.