Cardinal Kasper in Moscow

Source: FSSPX News


Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians, was in Moscow from June 20 to 23, 2005, in order to continue the dialogue with the Orthodox Patriarchate, which began “on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of the pontificate of Benedict XVI,” according to the director of the press office of the Holy See, Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

Up until the death of John Paul II, relations with the Patriarchate of Moscow had been difficult, due to accusations of proselytism against the Catholic Church following the creation in 2002 of four Catholic dioceses in Russia and a plan to establish a Greek Catholic Patriarchate in the Ukraine. In order to avoid a definitive break with Moscow, Cardinal Kasper met the Patriarch of Moscow Alexis II at the end of February 2004.

Last August, a delegation from the Holy See gave back to the Russian people, the icon of Our Lady of Kazan. This restitution of one of the most venerated icons by Orthodox Russians was considered “historic” by Catholics, but merely “a first step” by the Orthodox.

Visiting Moscow at the same time, between June 18 and 24, as the Secretary General of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, Methodist pastor Samuel Kobia, Cardinal Kasper met Metropolitan Kirill, head of the department of external relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, on June 22. The latter recalled that the transfer of the headquarters of the Greek Catholic Church of the Ukraine from Lviv to Kiev, planned for next November, remained “a serious obstacle to the development of relations between Catholics and Orthodox.”

“The new pope is taking the same stance as John Paul II” in favor of the transfer, Cardinal Kasper let it be known. But the Greek Orthodox Church of the Ukraine was asked to defer it so as not to offend the Orthodox. However, on May 13, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, principal archbishop of Lviv, definitely confirmed the transfer to Kiev.

Interviewed on July 2 by Radio Vatican, Cardinal Kasper pointed out that his visit would have an “exploratory” nature, in order to find ways of progressing “in not very easy relationships” with the Russian Orthodox Church. “This is why there were no plans for a meeting with the patriarch Alexis II, but with metropolitan Kirill.” “We have found areas in which we can collaborate,” he added, particularly in the “social and cultural” domain and also in the fight against “the current secularism.” “We have also said that it would be desirable for meetings between the monasteries to take place, given the importance of monasticism in the Orthodox Church.”

“Even though the people of Europe and the entire world are going through a moral crisis, even though a secular view of things has been imposed in an aggressive way, the cooperation between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches assumes a not inconsiderable importance in the promotion of Christian spiritual values in the life of the individual, of the family and of society,” stressed the archpriest Vsevolod Tchapline, deputy to metropolitan Kirill.

The dialogue with all of the Orthodox Churches will continue until next Autumn on the theme “What Does Church Mean in Reality?” “We will be dealing with the ecclesial community , and in this context, we will tackle the crucial question with Orthodoxy, namely the primacy of the Petrine ministry. In this area, it will be possible to address the question of the Uniate Church. It will not be an easy question, but eventually we will confront the problems which exist between us openly,” concluded Cardinal Walter Kasper.

A coordination meeting between the Orthodox Churches on the progress of theological dialogue with the Catholic Church is due to take place on September 13 in Istanbul, on the initiative of the patriarch of Constantinople.