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MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. It is still premature to talk about the possibility of the reunification of the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox churches , but the two branches of Christianity have already become allies rather than rivals, the way it was before, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s External Church Relations Department, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), said in an interview with TASS.
"We are not talking about the churches’ reunification. However, we are confident that their rapprochement on a number of issues is possible. And, most importantly, we are not rivals, the way it was in the past, we are allies," the metropolitan said.
In his view, the churches’ reunification should be preceded by a serious theological dialogue between Orthodox Christians and Catholics. In particular, the issue of the primacy of the Universal Church has not been resolved to date.
Metropolitan Hilarion noted that the schism between the churches that occurred in 1054 contradicts the will of Jesus Christ for a single church, and, therefore, one cannot put up with the current situation. He noted that the Havana meeting between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis (held on February 12, 2016 - TASS) was conceived as a concrete step towards greater unity.
"Protecting our brothers and sisters living through a real genocide is a pressing task today, and Orthodox Christians and Catholics should work together to solve it," the metropolitan said.
He recalled that during the historic meeting between His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis in Cuba in February 2016 the conversation focused on pooling efforts to counter terrorism, "especially in the Middle East where extremists threaten the very existence of Christians."
Metropolitan Hilarion noted that the scope of interaction between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church covering various aspects of public life has expanded substantially over the past 25 years, "which was totally impossible during the Soviet era when the churches’ activities were limited by the authorities."
"Both churches in our country are concerned about the same problems - the crisis of morality in the modern society, a very high divorce and abortion rate and social problems," he noted.
The metropolitan added that representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Catholic Church will take part in the work of the fifth plenary meeting of Russia’s Christian Interfaith Relations Committee in St. Petersburg on April 26. The theme of the meeting is "Faith and overcoming civil standoff. Lessons of the Century.".