Cardinal Kasper to meet with Catholic, Orthodox leaders in Ukraine
The cardinal's Oct. 19-25 trip will include conferences in Kyiv and Lviv marking the release of the Ukrainian translation of his Christology text, "Jesus the Christ." The book is expected to be used by Orthodox and Catholic seminarians and theology students, a Vatican official said. Cardinal Kasper also is scheduled to address the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in a discussion about "religious freedom and national identity," a particularly important topic in a region where faith and ethnic identity often are closely tied. The cardinal is expected to meet with the bishops of Ukraine's Eastern Catholic Church and the Latin-rite Catholic hierarchy, as well as with representatives of the various Orthodox churches present in the country. Ukraine has three main groups of Orthodox believers, one of which has strong ties with the Russian Orthodox Church's Moscow Patriarchate. When Pope John Paul II visited Ukraine in June 2001, representatives of the Moscow-related church refused to attend any events related to the visit, and members of the church protested the government's decision to invite the pope to visit. While on an international level Catholic-Orthodox relations remain strained, contact with individual Orthodox churches continues. During his Oct. 7-13 visit to Rome, Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist held several meetings with Pope John Paul, Cardinal Kasper and other Vatican officials, and Cardinal Kasper met with Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Maxim and members of his synod during an Oct. 8-10 visit to Bulgaria.