By Aidar Buribayev
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, would be willing to meet Pope Benedict after disputes with Catholics in Ukraine are resolved, Archbishop Hilarion, the Church’s external relations head, has said. A meeting with the pope would begin to heal the 1,000 year-old-rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in 1054 amid disputes over doctrine and papal authority that remain unresolved.
A highly-publicised visit by Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn to the disputed Roman Catholic shrine of Medjugorje seems to have deepened the divide between Catholics who fervently believe the Virgin Mary appears to visionaries there and those who suspect the Bosnian pilgrimage site may be a hoax.
Four and a half years after his death, Pope John Paul II remains a dominant presence in Poland’s Roman Catholic Church. Pictures of him are still ubiquitous in his homeland, and not only in churches. His former private secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, regularly invoked the name of the Polish-born pontiff during an interview in Krakow with Reuters, either lauding his role in the victory of democracy over communism in eastern Europe two decades ago or speaking of the need for the church today to follow his example in reaching out to other faiths in a spirit of ecumenical dialogue.
Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet will meet Pope Benedict this week during a trip to Italy to talk about improving ties. The Vatican and the Communist-run Southeast Asian country do not have diplomatic relations. Click here for some questions and answers about the Vietnam-Vatican relationship.
(Photo: Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern while discussing abuse report with journalists, 26 Nov 2009/Cathal McNaughton)
Ireland’s top Roman Catholic leaders will hold talks with Pope Benedict this week to formulate the Vatican’s response to an Irish government report on a 30-year cover-up of sexual abuse of children by priests.