National Catholic Register


Vatican Notes & Quotes

From Selected Sources

BY Jim Cosgrove

November 21-27, 1999 Issue | Posted 11/21/99 at 2:00 PM


Trip to Georgia Highlights Divisions

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 9-Tensions between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic churches were made explicit during the Pope's recent visit to Georgia, Times correspondent Alessandra Stanley reported.

“Shortly before the Pope arrived in Georgia, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Aleksy II, once again said he would not meet with the Pope if he came at the government's invitation”, said Stanley. “He said the Georgian Church was free to do as it pleased, but then warned, ‘They must realize the consequence of their steps.’”

The Times continued, “The enmity between Rome and the Georgian Church is not as deep as that with Moscow. Besides the core theological disputes over such principles as the primacy and infallibility of the pope, the Russian Orthodox Church is battling with the Catholic Church over property, especially in Ukraine.”

From the very first days of his pontificate, Pope John Paul has talked about reconciling the Eastern and Western churches before the end of the millennium. He sees a papal visit to Moscow as an important step in that direction, but said Times reporter Stanley, “the Russian Orthodox Church has rejected any ecumenical discussions with the Vatican.”