VATICAN CITY, AUG. 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Roger Etchegaray delivered a letter written by Benedict XVI to Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow, but says "trust must be built" before the two leaders can meet.
The retired president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said this on Vatican Radio upon returning from his trip to Russia. He visited Siberia, Irkutsk and Novosibirsk, and celebrated Mass on the feast of the Assumption in the Catholic cathedral in Moscow.
The cardinal said of Alexy II that "in the last 30 years we have worked a lot together for Europe. I can say that I feel very close to him: I consider him as a brother."
"We talk as friends, and among other things I delivered to him a personal message sent by Benedict XVI. It was a message that Alexy II appreciated very much. All this demonstrates the fluid relationship that exists between us two," Cardinal Etchegaray added.
The 84-year-old cardinal said that a possible meeting between the Holy Father and the Russian patriarch has been "talked about for a long time. I am sure that the patriarch and Benedict XVI, just as Pope John Paul II before him, sincerely and ardently desire this encounter, but no one knows when it will take place."
"No one can say," he confirmed, "because for both men, the greatest concern is that it be an encounter in truth and not a mediagenic spectacle, so that it can simply be said that the met."
The prelate said the desire of both is "that the meeting be well-prepared and that it take place in the best conditions of truth."
"Many times," added Cardinal Etchegaray, "the media exaggerate events, simplify or idealize the reality, which, it must not be forgotten, is normally quite complicated."
The prelate said he spoke with the patriarch about "the numerous projects that Catholics and Russian Orthodox run together, and it is impressive all that is done in various ways: It is a great novelty. Therefore it is necessary to not speak so much of the date and time of the meeting: Trust must be built."
ZE07082008 - 2007-08-20