MOSCOW (AP) -- A top official from the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine has sent a letter to Pope John Paul II urging him to postpone a planned visit this summer, a news report said.
Metropolitan Vladimir wrote last week that the visit would not be the peacemaking mission Vatican would like it to become because of disputes between Ukraine's Orthodox and Catholic believers, the Interfax news agency reported, citing Russia's Metropolitan Kirill.
Ukraine is a mostly Orthodox country with some believers loyal to Russia's church leadership.
Kirill has also been a vocal critic of the Pope's plan to visit Ukraine in June. He has cited Catholic missionary activity since the fall of communism and a dispute over church property in western Ukraine as issues that must be resolved before a papal visit.
Catholics and Orthodox Christians have been estranged for nearly 1,000 years. John Paul's planned visit to Ukraine is part of his effort to heal the rift.
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