Tensity in relations between Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican is being aggravated. PRAVDA.Ru wrote about the Pope’s decision to create a so-called “church province” of the Catholic Church in Russia (according to the will of Catholic center, in our country, Catholic bishoprics with metropolitans at the head are being organized). It should be remembered that when the Pope made this statement, and from Russia a negative reaction followed from Russia: the Moscow Patriarchy, the Russian Foreign Ministry, State Duma deputies, famous politicians, and public and religious figures of Russia considered this step of the Vatican to the open expansion of Catholicism into Russia.
On Saturday in Moscow, a video link between the Vatican and Moscow took place. It was organized in the Roman Catholic cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Malaya Gruzinskaya Street. The screens in the cathedral presented the Pope’s virtual service.
About 3,000 people came to the cathedral and prayed for the Pope and for the leaders of European states to be led by God. Patriarch Alexis II also took part in the event, greeting Russian Catholics in the Russian language. With the video link, Catholics from Budapest, Vienna, Athens, and Strasbourg participated, and all of them were greeted by the Pope in their native language. However, Russian television companies refused to transmit the Pope’s address to Russia’s Catholics and the virtual service.
The Patriarch of Moscow and Russia, Alexis II , criticized the event. According to Alexis II, the question is about the invasion of Russia and about the attempt to spread Catholicism in Russia by force. According to Archbishop Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy chairman of Moscow Patriarchy’s foreign department, quoted by Ekho Moskvy radio station, “it is just striking how persevering and persistent the Vatican is in offering different ways of bringing the Pope’s presence to Russia. There is even the impression that this is the only question with which Vatican is now really concerned.” It is noticeable that even before the event, Russian Orthodox leaders stated that this event would be very undesirable for Russia. However, this did not help.
Numerous protests against spreading Catholicism in Russia were simply ignored by the Vatican. Patriarch of Antioch Ignaty IV (Khazim) supposes that consolidated actions are necessary. According to the Patriarch, local Orthodox Churches should in common react to the Catholic Church’s leadership. Ignaty IV condemns the Vatican’s action, considering it to be a serious obstacle in establishing a constructive dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Ignaty IV intends to express his position to the Pope as well.
The administration of the Russian president also expressed its position regarding the Vatican’s policy; however, they interpret it in their own way. Sergei Abramov, first deputy chairman of the Administration’s Internal Policy Office, while meeting with Metropolitan Tadeusz Kondrusievic, said that Catholics should carry out their activities in Russia only within the framework of structures foreseen in canonical law. However, Kondrusievic did not pay attention to these words, saying to journalists that he was very satisfied with the meeting, at which the role of Catholic Church and other religions in life of Russian society was discussed. The conclusion Kondrusievic makes from the conversation: “the open conversation in the presidential administration will serve for society’s pacification towards Catholic.” However, the head of Russia does want an open conflict with the Vatican, despite all the protests of society. This could only signify that he sensibly estimates the situation in the country. In Russia, the church is legislatively separated from the state; therefore, the president should not settle inter-church conflicts.
At the same time, Vladimir Putin is known as an consistent adherent of traditional Russian religion. According to Radonezh review, Putin spent his latest vacation visiting northern monasteries. In particular, on Valaam island. While talking to monks, he said that Russia cannot be without Orthodoxy, as there is no Orthodoxy without Russia. However, other mass media preferred not to publish these words of the Russian president. Returning to the subject, I can only wonder at the Pope’s hypocrisy. Last week, he sent an epistle, congratulating Alexis II on the day of repose and name-in-common (tezoimenitstvo). In his letter, he in particular prayed to God for “aiming us at a dialogue, at the way of cooperation for achieving the unity we all wish.”
Probably to achieve the unity, the Pope organized Catholic bishops in Russia at the same time that Alexis II was being congratulated on the day of his tezoimenitstvo.
Sergei Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru
Tranlsated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/03/04/37822.html