SOURCE: Vatican Radio
Pope Benedict on Thursday met at Castel Gandolfo with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s department for external relations, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. The Orthodox archbishop, a noted theologian, Church historian and composer, spent the past two days meeting with Vatican officials to discuss the ongoing dialogue between the two Churches.
“His Holiness is a man of faith and whenever I meet with him I’m encouraged by his spirit, his courage and his dedication to the life of the Church worldwide. Of course I’m very impressed by his knowledge of the Orthodox tradition and the attention he pays to the dialogue between the Catholics and the Orthodox...I believe that this attitude of the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church will greatly help us in our way towards better mutual understanding
We do not have a very clear picture of what should be the role of the primate within the Orthodox tradition and without this clear and unified vision we cannot easily discuss how we see the role of ‘primus inter pares’ within the universal Church...
We believe that such a meeting (between Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill) will take place some time in the future but we are not yet ready to discuss the date or the place or the protocol, because what matters for us primarily is the content of this meeting….. It requires a very careful preparation and we should not be hurrying up or be pressed to have this meeting at a particular point in time."
Listen to an interview with Metropolitan Hilarion here.