Cardinal Koch: It is uncertain whether the Pope will meet with Patriarch Kirill in Kazakhstan
Answering the question of whether a meeting between hierarchs can take place during the Pope's visit to Kazakhstan on the occasion of an interreligious meeting, in which the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church also confirmed his participation, Cardinal Koch replied:
"I don't know. A big challenge will be the fact, and it should be taken into account, that the Pope would first meet with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch before visiting Ukraine. In Ukraine, this would be perceived as a great difficulty." Would such a meeting make sense? "I believe," said the head of the Vatican ecumenical office," that it would make sense to work out a common clear position so that this senseless and terrible war would finally end."
Regarding the current state of dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church, Cardinal Koch noted that the Orthodox churches have decided that the theological dialogue between them and the Catholic Church will take place in a multilateral format, not bilateral. But now, the Russian Orthodox Church does not participate in this dialogue due to the conflict with the patriarch of Constantinople related to the recognition of the autocephaly of the OCU. But outside of theological dialogue, there are bilateral relations.
"Now," he said, "This is overshadowed by Patriarch Kirill's position on the war in Ukraine. These positions are very different because it is quite clear to the Catholic Church that war is never a solution. The war only creates even greater problems, with many victims, refugees, environmental pollution and provoking hunger worldwide. Therefore, the position of the Holy See is clear: War is the wrong way to go."
However, according to him, although the difference is very large, "if we want to look for roads for further understanding, we must maintain a dialogue."
Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, will lead the Vatican delegation that will take part in the plenary assembly of the World Council of Churches, which will be held in Karlsruhe, Germany, from August 31 to September 8, 2022.