VATICAN, Feb. 7, 01 (CWNews.com) -- Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz,
the apostolic administrator of Moscow, has arrived in Rome for his ad limina
visit. During his meeting with Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz--
along with the other two bishops who are apostolic administrators in Russia-
- will discuss prospects for the Pope's June visit to Ukraine.
The papal visit to Ukraine, where tensions between the Catholic and
Orthodox churches are high, could have a significant impact on Russia. The
Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is affiliated with the Russian Orthodox
Church, has written to ask the Pope to postpone his visit indefinitely.
Observers have suggested that the trip could pose new problems for the
efforts to arrange a "summit meeting" between the Holy Father and Patriarch
Aleksei II of Moscow, the leader of the world's largest Christian
denomination outside the Catholic Church.
However, in an interview with the Roman news agency I Media, Archbishop
Kondrusiewicz said, "I don't think the Orthodox want to break off relations
with the Catholic Church." He continued by saying that "personally I believe
that despite the reservations they have expressed, the Pope's visit to
Ukraine will prove positive" for the cause of ecumenical progress.
The archbishop further observed that the state of the Orthodox Church in
Ukraine is itself uncertain, because there are two different ecclesial
communities struggling for control. The Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople,
generally acknowledged in the Orthodox world as the "first among equals" of
Orthodox prelates, may visit Ukraine prior to the Pope's arrival, in an effort
to promote unity among the Orthodox faithful. The success of any such effort
would have important implications for the Pope's trip.
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz pointed out that the Moscow Patriarchate has
become embroiled in a similar dispute in the past, when two different
Orthodox groups in Estonia claimed the right to govern Orthodox affairs in
that country. Ultimately one group was recognized by Moscow, and another
by Constantinople and most of the rest of the Orthodox world.
"Some people have the impression that the Russian Orthodox Church is
isolating herself by acting this way," the archbishop said. "I hope with all my
heart that she will open herself up, to her own advantage. The way the
world is today, we cannot live beside side by side, separately."
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz expressed regret that the Ukrainian Orthodox
synod had made a point of announcing that it had not issued an invitation to
the Pope. But such an invitation is not necessary, he pointed out-- even
when the Pope visits a predominantly Orthodox country. "When Aleksei II
went to Lithuania or to Austria, he did not ask John Paul's permission," he