Russia: Patriarch Alexis II appeals to Vatican II

Source: FSSPX News


>This has been decided by the Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Kirill, head of the department for relations with Churches outside of the patriarchy of Moscow, and Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians, during their meeting in the Russian capital on February 9, 2004. The question of a proposed Greco-Catholic patriarchy in the Ukraine – still in abeyance – is at the heart of tensions between the Orthodox and Catholics. (See DICI n° 91)

In the course of conversations, the parties have looked at the problematic points between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, particularly in Russia and the Ukraine, said Cardinal Kasper, adding: "The unanimous stance of the Orthodox Churches – Russian and local – who have given a written response on the question of the eventual establishment of a Greco-Catholic patriarchy in the Ukraine has been taken into consideration by the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church with great earnestness." He assured the Orthodox that the Holy See "wished to maintain and reinforce positive relations with the Orthodox Churches".

On Sunday 21st, the German Cardinal was received by the patriarch of Russia, who warned the Vatican against its proselytism: "We consider that the principle founded by Vatican Council II, which defines the Orthodox Churches as Sister Churches, must be put into practice. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in recent times, and we have the impression that the Roman Catholic Church has renounced it.

Alexis II has insisted particularly on the question of the Ukraine and the proposed creation of patriarchy of Catholics of the Eastern rite, known as Uniates. He has even warned Cardinal Kasper that the creation of a patriarchy of Kiev would make "a cross on the relations between the Vatican and the Russian patriarchy for decades", according to the Russian agency Ria-Novosti. He has emphasize again that the Greco-Catholic Church present in the Ukraine was a part of the Roman Catholic Church, and that she therefore carried full responsibility for the activities of the Uniates.

Alexis II has also reiterated the displeasure of the Orthodox Church after the creation of four Catholic dioceses in Russia by the Holy See two years ago, adding that the patriarchy of Moscow had not been informed of this proposal, "contrary to customary practice", reports the agency Interfax. Finally, he called for the cessation of all missionary activity by Catholics amongst the Russian of Orthodox baptism in the patriarchy of Moscow.

Back in Rome, Cardinal Kasper declared himself satisfied with his visit to Moscow; he nevertheless acknowledged that the visit of the Pope to Russia, long wished for by the latter, remained remote. "We will see in the near future if the tone of the debate calms down, and if we succeed in talking seriously and truly collaborating", he said.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, given on February 21, he affirmed that he had the impression that the page had been turned. "Now we can look to the future, a better future. This is also the impression of the Orthodox whom we met. They also seemed very happy with these meetings", he said.

On February 25, he made this declaration to a group of German journalists, repeated by Radio Vatican: No one can honestly want to destroy all that the Pope has constructed with these Churches. Of course, we take very seriously the arguments of all the Orthodox Churches, we must really think about it, and we can not take them away from the table. We don not want this to bring lead to a break with the Orthodox Churches."

On the subject of his lecture to the Catholic bishops of Russia (the entire text will be released on our website next week), the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians has clearly made known his intention: "I had to enlighten them a little on the principles of the High Commission for Russia and explain to them that our task was not to convert the Orthodox, but to help them so that they may successfully carry out their mission", not forgetting to mention the approval of these principles by the Pope and the importance of remembering them.