Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow has repeated his demand that the Vatican must curb the "proselytism" by Catholic clerics in Russia and eastern Europe.
During an August 7 meeting with Cardinal Roger Etchegaray (bio - news), the Russian Patriarch said that Church leaders should "speedily" call a halt to the expansion of Eastern Catholic churches.
The Moscow patriarchate called attention to Patriarch Alexei's comments shortly after Vatican officials noted that the August 7 meeting had taken place in a "brotherly climate." Cardinal Etchegaray, meeting with the Russian patriarch as a papal envoy, had told reporters after the meeting that ecumenical relations were steadily improving, and could soon lead to a "summit meeting" between the Russian prelate and the Pope.
In his own comments Patriarch Alexei downplayed those hopes, suggesting that curbs on Catholic "proselytism" were required to "develop further the positive tendencies in Orthodox-Catholic relations." While he acknowledged the broadening cooperation between the Catholic and Orthodox churches, particularly in efforts to revive a public witness to Christianity in Europe, he insisted that Catholic activity in eastern Europe "should not turn into proselytism."
The Russian primate said that the strained relations between Eastern-rite Catholics and Orthodox in Ukraine is a particular source of tension. But he added that the Orthodox Church is alarmed by the "Uniate expansion" in other traditionally Orthodox regions.