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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vatican Envoy Talks With Orthodox Official

A high-ranking Vatican envoy held sensitive talks Wednesday with a senior Russian Orthodox priest, cautioning that progress in healing the rift between the churches would be measured in small steps.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Vatican's office for relations with other Christians, arrived in Moscow on Monday to pursue Pope Benedict XVI's drive for better relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

"We are here to repeat our proposals," Kasper said in an interview carried Wednesday by the Catholic missionary news service AsiaNews. "There must not only be steps by us. Dialogue is always reciprocal."

Kasper sat down for talks Wednesday with Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department.

The Russian Orthodox Church said in a statement after the talks that the parties expressed their understanding that "cooperation between the Orthodox and Catholic churches in consolidating Christian spiritual and moral values ... can be especially important now, when the peoples of Europe and the world are suffering a moral crisis."

Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, never fulfilled his dream of visiting Russia following the 1991 Soviet collapse because of disputes between the two churches, which have been split since the Great Schism of 1054.