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Roman Catholic, Orthodox dialogue resumes

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On Monday, the International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox church resumes its activity with a Sept. 18-25 session in Belgrade, Serbia.

Many experts aren't holding their breath expecting great breakthroughs, but optimism nevertheless abounds in ecumenical circles, for whom the mere resumption of the talks after a six-year hiatus represents a victory.

In a message to Catholic clergy and laity in Russia, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Moscow struck a hopeful note.

"This good news has inspired hope for development of Catholic-Orthodox relations. By God's mercy, we resume discussing problems to be settled on our way towards unity," he said last week.

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Kondrusiewicz said that the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches "in their defense of moral values in face of the challenges of secularism, moral relativism and ever more threatening liberalism, should confirm their desire of unity in practice."

He was not, however, unreservedly sanguine.

"With all the complexity of the problems, it is naïve to believe that the resuming talks would be easy and able to settle all the problems of our relationships. It should be remembered, however, that ecumenical dialogue is an expression of the will of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit and we all are called to be instruments in His hands."

Kondrusiewicz asked everyone to pray for the dialogue.

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The e-mail address for John L. Allen Jr. is jallen@ncronline.org

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April 11-24, 2014

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