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IN BRIEF / Religion

Orthodox Patriarch Opposes Visit by Pope

January 26, 2002|Associated Press

MOSCOW--The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has repeated his fierce opposition to a visit to Russia by Pope John Paul, citing Roman Catholic activity in the region. He said he won't meet the pope if the pontiff decides to visit.

Patriarch Alexy II said "the Vatican continues to proselytize on the territories of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, trying to convert people christened as Orthodox or rooted in Orthodoxy," ITAR-Tass reported last week.

Just before, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that, as head of state, he would invite John Paul "any minute" but that the pope himself wants better relations with Russian Orthodoxy before a visit occurs.

"Regrettably, that doesn't depend on me," Putin said.

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