Russia: Cardinal Kasper in Moscow "to turn a page"

Source: FSSPX News


The papal president of Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity gave a conference on “Orthodoxy and the Roman Catholic Church” in the Catholic cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Moscow. He thus declared: “Russia is not a heathen country. In Russia, the Roman Catholic Church is in a situation marked above all by the multiyear presence of the Orthodox Church, which determined the culture of this country. It is our duty to offer it the greatest assistance”.

“To the extent that we recognize the - Orthodox Church as a true church and its sacraments as authentic, there cannot be a deliberate policy nor strategy of evangelization of the orthodox Christians”. Quoting the encyclical Ut Unum Sint, the cardinal clarified that “this document rejected what the terminology of the Greek Orthodox Church qualifies as uniatism and as proselytism, in other words missionary activity among the members of the Orthodox Church, as method for today and for tomorrow”. He thus called the Russian Catholic clergy to carry out the duty of evangelization “in a spirit of respect and collaboration with the Russian Orthodox Church”.

Father Igor Vyjanov, in charge of relations with the other Christian churches in the Orthodox patriarchy of Moscow, expressed a partial satisfaction, judging the speech of Cardinal Kasper “well-balanced”, but hoping that “these good words will be followed by concrete acts”.

At present, the bone of contention between Rome and Moscow is the possible erection of a Greek-Catholic uniate patriarchy in Kiev. The pope is said to want it, in consideration of the horrifying martyrdom undergone by the uniates who refused their forced integration into the Orthodox Church under Stalin. But Cardinal Kasper shows himself very reluctant, in the name of the ecumenism.

The attitude of the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity is far from gaining a consensus. Thus, Father Robert Taft, S.J., the professor emeritus to the Oriental Papal Institute, the pioneer in the dialogue with the Orthodox, militates for the creation of a Greek-Catholic patriarchy in Ukraine.

In an interview granted to the National Catholic Reporter, an American weekly, he declares that in his opinion to have a dialogue is a good thing, but if the others are in error, it is necessary to say it to them in public, and not in private and in a low voice, as we have always done until now. According to him, Rome should create before any thing else a Greek-Catholic Patriarchate in the Ukraine, and the Archbishop of Lviv, Cardinal Husar, should be named its Patriarch. “My advice to the Ukrainians, he specified, is to do two things. First of all, publicly declare the existence of a Patriarchate. Then, demand recognition from Rome, and if it doesn’t happen, return all letters not addressed to the Patriarchate”. To put it plainly, “The Secretary of State sends a letter to the Archbishop. Send it back unopened and marked “address unknown”.

Fr. Taft advises this policy of the fait accompli with regard to Rome, joining it to a severe judgment on the policy of the excessive prudence of Cardinal Kasper toward the Orthodox, so as not to upset them. He calls “absurd” the Orthodox pretensions according to which the Church must not engage in the work of evangelization, “all the more since there are Orthodox priests who proselytize among Catholics”. He also brings up the fact that the Russian Orthodox have opened a parish in Palermo, confided to a priest who is a former Catholic: “When this parish began, the daily of the Patriarchate of Moscow clearly said that it was a step forward in the rediscovery of the Byzantine heritage of Sicily.”