Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Patriarch of Moscow Sees New Possibilities for Orthodox/Catholic Cooperation

This is very encouraging. From

Friday, May 20, 2005 - 05:45 AM
Metropolitan of Moscow: Pope is pushing for shared mission with the Orthodox
19 May, 2005Msgr Tadeus Kondrusiewicz says that new conditions exist for dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox: the fight against aggressive secularism; respect for human life; the importance of the family; "no" to female priesthood.Rome (AsiaNews) -- Benedict XVI's main objective is to witness the Gospel together with the Orthodox in the fight against contemporary society's "aggressive secularism". This is what the Catholic Metropolitan of Moscow, Monsignor Tadeus Kondrusiewicz, said following a private audience with the Pope at the Vatican today. "The Pontiff takes to heart the situation of Catholics in Russia -- Kondrusiewicz said to various journalists -- and underlined the importance of Catholics and Orthodox witnessing together the Gospel and moral values in the fight against aggressive secularism," which abounds in our societies.During the audience, Kondrusiewicz presented the Pope with the first two volumes of the Catholic Encyclopedia in Russian. "The Pontiff took them in hand and began reading a few words in Russian," a pleased Kondrusiewicz said.Pastor of the Russian capital's Archdiocese of the Mother of God, Kondrusiewicz is in Rome leading the first pilgrimage of Russian Catholics since the death of John Paul II. "Yesterday, the late Pope's birthday, we celebrated Mass near his tomb," he said, "and in my homily, I prayed that Pope Woytjla makes it possible for Benedict XVI to fulfil the dream of visiting Moscow." Msgr Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, was of the same opinion; Kondrusiewicz said that, while meeting the Russian faithful yesterday, Rylko said, "John Paul II's work will assist his successor toward reaching Moscow."In the meantime, the Russian faithful go to the Pope. Yesterday at the general audience in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI greeted the pilgrims in attendance in Russian. "Everyone was moved," the Archbishop said, "some wept and were saying, "Pope Benedict, we await you in Russia."Kondrusiewicz confirmed that "new conditions" exist today for closer ties with the Orthodox Patriarchate which is hostile toward the Vatican and Catholics for their alleged proselytism in Russia. "The situation needs time to mature," he stated, "but there is less tension in the air." Kondrusiewicz explained that many Orthodox already see various points of contact with Pope Ratzinger's teaching: "the firm stance on women priests, the importance of the family, the question of respect for human life; these are the groundwork from which to begin." For the Metropolitan, however, more is needed. "We must first work together with the Orthodox from the theological point of view and define what 'proselytism', 'religious freedom' mean, to then procede along a shared path." A mixed commission, set up following the first visit to Moscow in February 2004 of Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, has been working for some time on these questions. The commission has dealt so far with several cases of proselytism.Lastly, the Metropolitan touched on the situation of Catholics in Russia. Among the various problems faced by the Catholic community is, above all, the lack of Russian-born priests, due to decades of atheism under the Soviet regime. Some 90% of priests in Russia are of foreign origin. Another problem is the lack of churches: many religious buildings which once belonged to Catholics were confiscated under the Soviet regime and have not yet been returned.In the evening, Msgr Kondrusiewicz and his pilgrims took part in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Rome's Saint Mary Major Basilica. Several prayers were read in Russian during the Eucharistic adoration.

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