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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Church Relations Hinge on Ukraine

Progress in relations with the Vatican will depend on solving bitter disputes over Eastern Rite Catholic churches in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church said Friday.

In a statement, the church's Holy Synod, which met Thursday, specifically linked future contacts with the Vatican to "positive results of the peace process in the regions of conflict in Western Ukraine and the Karpaty Mountains."

The two churches have moved haltingly toward reconciliation in recent years. But the latest round of talks with papal representatives last month failed to bring any progress in long-running disputes, the church said in a statement.

Top officials "noted with regret the absence of any visible changes for the better in the inter-confessional situation in Western Ukraine," the statement said.

The Russian church strongly objects to efforts by the Roman Catholic Church and others to seek converts in Russia. It has also refused to return property it gained when the Soviets shut down Eastern Rite Catholic churches, which follow Orthodox rituals but are loyal to Rome.