SPIEGEL: Could you envision a reunification of the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church, which have now been separated for close to 1,000 years?
Kyrill: The division is a consequence of human sin. In this respect it resembles a divorce. The Christian West and the Christian East parted ways because they believed that they didn’t need each other anymore. Reunification can only achieved through spiritual rapprochement. It doesn’t matter how many documents we sign. Unless we have the feeling that we love each other, that we are one family, and that each member needs the other, it will not materialize.
SPIEGEL: When will the long-awaited meeting between Pope Benedict and the head of your church, Patriarch Alexei, take place?
Kyrill: Our relations have improved since Benedict became pope. He has stricken the issue of a visit to Moscow from the agenda. This sort of visit would not have solved any problems, but it would have provoked new ones. Many of the faithful in Russia mistrust Catholics. This is a legacy of the wars and of proselytization efforts in the 17th and 18th centuries.
SPIEGEL: Could you imagine the pope and the patriarch meeting in a third country, essentially on neutral ground?
Kyrill: It’s certainly possible. The entire development in bilateral relations is moving in the direction of such a meeting coming about.
SPIEGEL: The fact that the pope is no longer Polish ought to make him more palatable to the Russians.
Kyrill: In this case, I would like to give you an official response: Nationality is unimportant.
SPIEGEL: Your Eminence, thank you for this interview.