Russian Catholic official says conditions improve for church


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WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The secretary-general of the Russian bishops' conference said the Catholic Church's working conditions in Russia had improved, and he was hopeful that would lead to the development of higher-level diplomatic relations.

"Our church's ties with state and society here have significantly improved recently, and we hope this process will now develop further," Father Igor Kovalevsky, the secretary-general, told Catholic News Service in a July 14 telephone interview.

"A full relationship will clearly facilitate links at a time when both the Holy See and Russian Federation share common views on many international questions," said Father Kovalevsky.

The Interfax news agency reported earlier in July that Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Vatican's representative in Moscow, said that talks on diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Russia would end soon after "covering a lot of ground."

A spokeswoman for Archbishop Mennini's office told CNS July 14 that a timetable for diplomatic ties would depend on the Russian side, adding that "nothing had been decided" about possible dates.