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    » 10/29/2007, 00.00

    VATICAN – RUSSIA

    New bishop in Moscow is reassuring about Church’s “mission” in Russia



    During Mgr Pezzi’s entrance ceremony in Mother of God Archdiocese, a message from Alexy II is read, saying that our relations depend on “how effectively we testify to the world about Christian values.” The new metropolitan makes clear that proselytising begins where the real mission ends, adding that if both sides are true missionaries they can pursue unity.

    Moscow (AsiaNews) – The entrance ceremony of Mgr Paolo Pezzi as archbishop and head of Moscow’s Mother of God Archdiocese was held in the presence of 1,500 worshippers, 200 priests as well as members of the Orthodox clergy, the diplomatic corps and journalists. With the mass performed in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow on Saturday Mgr Pezzi took over from Mgr Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, the former head of the archdiocese in the Russian capital, who moved to Minsk, in Belarus.

    During the ceremony Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, read out a message from the Patriarch of Moscow Alexy II. In it the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church voiced his hopes that the tenure of the new head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moscow would be a time of “good relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches and of an early resolution of the problems between us.”

    The message ends saying that it all depends on “how effectively we testify to the world about Christian values,” a clear reference to charges made by the Patriarchate against the Catholic Church in Russia and the Vatican over alleged Catholic proselytising, a major obstacle preventing a meeting between Alexy II and the Pope.

    Both Mgrs Kondrusiewicz and Pezzi referred to the issue in the days before the ordination of the new archbishop and metropolitan.

    The former bishop of Moscow expressed his regrets that in his 16-year tenure he failed “to establish better relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.”

    “I have never promoted any proselytising activities, which are contrary to how I see things as well as to Church teachings,” he stressed. “Never the less, the dialogue was not disrupted, and I wish that the new archbishop may do more in this area.”

    For his part Mgr Pezzi, from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Charles Borromeo, explained his point of view on “mission.”

    In a long interview with the Russian news agency Interfax-Religion he said that “mission is a testimony of evangelical values [. . . whereas] proselytism starts at the point where the real mission ends. Therefore, if all of us—both Catholics and Orthodox—practice ‘mission,’ we can develop good understanding and pursue unity, as there will be no place left for conflicts ”

    In the interview the new archbishop also mentioned some of the goals he has set for himself in his new pastoral role, which he views as a continuation of what Mgr Kondrusiewicz started. In addition to ecumenism, he wants greater care for clergy training, greater support for young priests as well as men and women religious and renewed commitment to face the great problems that affect Russian society.

    Currently some 600,000 Catholics live in Russia, although some experts say Russian Catholics might account for 1 per cent of the population, or 1.5 million people.

    Currently there are 230 Catholic parishes registered in Russia, plus some 30 other organisations. But some 30 per cent of the parishes still do not have their own churches, which were nationalised in Soviet times, something that is still a serious problem.

    Some 300 clergymen from many countries around the world carry out pastoral services.

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    See also

    26/08/2004 VATICAN - RUSSIA
    "The handover of the icon of Kazan is an historic event"

    Interview with Mgr. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Catholic Archbishop of Moscow.



    28/01/2009 VATICAN - RUSSIA
    Pope: joy over election of Kirill as patriarch of Moscow
    In a note, the pontifical council for the promotion of Christian unity stresses the "fraternal relations" with the new patriarch, and recalls the meetings between Kirill and Benedict XVI. From Moscow, Archbishop Pezzi speaks of "fraternal understanding."

    28/12/2007 RUSSIA
    Russia’s only Catholic magazine Svet Evangelia closes
    For almost 14 years the magazine spoke about the religious situation across Russia, defending freedom and justice, becoming a point of reference for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It received recognition for its indefatigable work promoting inter-faith dialogue and for its exemplary journalism. Its sudden disappearance follows a decision by the new archbishop of Our Mother of God diocese in Moscow.

    25/03/2008 RUSSIA - VATICAN
    Presented today in Moscow, Spe Salvi in Russian
    The ceremony which will take place in the “Library of the Spirit”, will be addressed by Catholic Archbishop Paolo Pezzi and Fr. Vladimir Shmalij, secretary of the of the Synod Theological Commission of the Orthodox Patriarchate.

    17/05/2006 RUSSIA – VATICAN
    Meeting the Pope was a "dream come true" for Russian pilgrims
    Some 150 faithful from Moscow attend the general audience accompanied by Mgr Kondrusiewicz who gave the Pope a Russian translation of  'Deus caritas est'.



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