Differences loom in ongoing talks over Russian church reunification

Posted: Friday, November 26, 2004

MOSCOW (AP) The Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, a New York-based branch that split off after the Bolshevik Revolution, still differ on many issues and that has slowed reunification talks.

Russian news agencies quoted Metropolitan Kirill, chief of external relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, as saying ''it cannot be said that everything is going smoothly'' as a third round of negotiations toward reunion proceeded.

Kirill said work ''is going successfully,'' ITAR-Tass and Interfax reported, but ''for more than 70 years our views have been forming separately from each other, in different historical conditions, and this cannot be ignored.''

He said that ''both sides sincerely wish to overcome the division,'' but ''we are not setting any deadlines a week, a month or a year.''

ITAR-Tass quoted the foreign church's chief negotiator, Archbishop Mark of Germany, as saying ''very serious questions have remained for discussion.''

The church abroad severed all contact after Moscow's patriarch pledged loyalty to the atheistic Communist regime in 1927. The Moscow Patriarchate said that was done to save the church from complete ruin.

The head of the church abroad, Metropolitan Laurus, made a historic visit to Russia in May, and the two churches formed commissions to negotiate such matters as what will happen to the exiled church's congregations within Russia along with the structure of a merged church.


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