Friday, January 30, 2009

Pope's Russian Wish: A New Era

As a very happy Holy See prepares to send its top ecumenical duo -- and possibly even the "Vice-Pope" -- to Moscow for Sunday's enthronement of the newly-elected Patriarch Kirill...
[Cardinal] Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Holy See, and the council's secretary, Bishop Brian Farrell, will attend the ceremony to enthrone Metropolitan Kirill as patriarch, a Russian church official said.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone may also attend the ceremony, the source said, adding however that his visit had not been officially confirmed.

The representative of the Holy See in Russia Archbishop Antonio Menini and head of the Moscow Catholic Archdiocese Paolo Pezzi will also be present at the ceremony at the sumptuous Christ the Savior Cathedral in central Moscow, which will also be attended by senior Russian and foreign government officials and public figures....

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said in an official statement that the Roman Catholic Church congratulated Metropolitan Kirill and hoped for better ties between the churches despite the "difficulties."

"We are happy that the new patriarch is a person with whom we had brotherly relations for many years," the statement said.
...the Pope put Russia's Catholic bishops on notice that their part in smoothing the path toward better relations is imperative:
Catholics in Russia must work together with the country's much larger Orthodox community to defend human life and the family and promote strong moral values, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope met the four Catholic bishops of Russia Jan. 29, the last day of their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses and just two days after the Russian Orthodox Church elected a new patriarch.

In a situation where Catholic-Orthodox differences involving theology, church structure and practice make formal dialogue a challenge, the pope said, the bishops must engage in dialogue on a personal level.

"Such contacts contribute to greater mutual understanding, thanks to which it is possible to work together in areas of common interest," he said.

"It is important that Christians unite to face the great cultural and ethical challenges of the present moment concerning the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights, the defense of life at every stage, the safeguarding of the family and other urgent economic and social questions," the pope said.

In a country like Russia, so deeply marked by more than 1,000 years of Orthodox tradition and culture, "it is essential to take into account the necessity of a renewed commitment to dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters," Pope Benedict said.

While again offering his best wishes to Patriarch-elect Kirill of Moscow, the pope also prayed that God would "confirm us all in the commitment to walk together on the path of reconciliation and fraternal love."
PHOTO: Reuters