Relations Chill Between Rome and Moscow

Source: FSSPX News

A Siberian cold seems to have fallen on relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Church, if we are to believe the latest statements from the number two man in the Russian Orthodox Church.

In Rome, the news has hit hard because a positive atmosphere seemed to be emerging in the complicated relations between the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow. On August 5, 2022, at the invitation of Pope Francis, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, had been received by Peter's successor in the private library of the apostolic palace. It resulted in a long conversation that ended with an exchange of gifts.

On September 14, 2022, a new private meeting took place between the two men, on the sidelines of the inter-religious summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. The high Russian prelate had confided to the press that a meeting between Patriarch Kirill and the Sovereign Pontiff was still being considered by both parties who were “convinced of its importance,” but that it should be “well prepared.”

The senior Orthodox official, however, regretted that the Holy See had “cancelled” a meeting between the two men scheduled for June in Jerusalem, citing an interview published in May in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera in which the Pope had confided that he had given up on this project.

Other comments made on October 1st, while he was on the air with the program “The Church and the World” broadcast on the Russia-24 TV, Metropolitan Anthony dispelled any illusions. “At this point, I have to say that some of the comments that we read and hear not only from the mouth of the Pope, but also from most of his assistants, do not contribute at all to the preparation of a meeting.” 

It must be said that for several weeks, Pope Francis has called out Russia in his public statements, evoking in particular, at the September 21 audience, the “pain” of the Ukrainian people in the face of the “savagery, the monstrosities, the tortured corpses they find.”

On October 2, 2022 Angelus at the Vatican, the Pope directly addressed the President of the Russian Federation, and denounced the annexation of the territories of Zaporijjia, Kherson , Luhansk and Donetsk, as “contrary to international law.”

The following day, Metropolitan Anthony, quoted by the Russian news agency Interfax, once again pointed to the remarks made earlier in the year by Pope Francis in which the latter allegedly made impermissible remarks regarding Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.

Finally, the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate announced that the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church had contracted Covid-19, but that his state of health was considered “satisfactory” at this time.