Archbishop: Vatican-Russian Meeting Not a Good Idea
INTERFAX NEWS, May 18 — A meeting between Pope John Paul II and the Russian Orthodox patriarchate would not be a good idea, nor would a papal visit to Russia, according to a Russian Orthodox archbishop.
There is currently too much confrontation between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Great Britain said May 18 at a briefing in Moscow. His position reflected that of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia, which is the same position as that of the Orthodox Church in Russia, the news agency reported.
Archbishop Mark said confrontations — most notably the dispute regarding Church territory in Ukraine — should be resolved before any meetings take place.
However, other Orthodox leaders pointed to progress already made between the Churches. Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kirill said dialogue between the two has been “very positive.”
Swiss Bishops Criticize Letter to Pope
SWISSINFO.COM, May 18 — Switzerland's bishops have called a letter written by more than 40 priests and lay people calling for Pope John Paul II to step down “disgusting and disloyal.”
The letter, which was delivered to the Swiss bishops’ conference May 14, came only a few days before the Pope's 84th birthday May 18 and only a few weeks before a scheduled papal visit to the country, the news site noted.
A spokesman for the bishops’ conference said it was “extremely upsetting that people should use the arrival of the Pope to make such a comment” and that it is “not characteristic of the greeting Switzerland is preparing for him.”
One of the letter-signers said the Church is best served by setting a retirement age for popes at 75, saying that these days the media focus more on the Holy Father's health than on his message, the site reported.
John Paul spent his birthday working and receiving visitors, which included the prime minister of Portugal and the president of Poland.
Pope Extends Blessings to Olympic Organizers
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, May 15 — As he offered blessings for organizers of the Olympic Games to be held in Athens, Greece, this summer, Pope John Paul II called for the games to be a show of fraternity and peace.
The Holy Father made his comments May 15 while meeting with the mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyianni, who was on a tour of Europe and the United States leading up to the Aug. 13-29 Olympics, the wire service reported.
“I express the wish that the next celebration of the Olympic Games in your city be a show of brotherhood for all the participants and a message of peace and union for all those who will be spectators across the world,” John Paul told the mayor. “In this spirit, I invoke divine blessings for you and all the organizers of this celebration.”
In the week before her meeting with the Pope, Bakoyianni encouraged countries to attend the Olympic Games in her country and not be swayed by security fears and fears of terrorist attacks.
- May 30-June 5, 2004