12/02/2009, 00.00
RUSSIA - VATICAN
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The speeches of Benedict XVI on Europe published by Patriarch Kyril

Today, the presentation in Rome, awaiting the visit of Medvedev to the pope. A Russian embassy to the Holy See may be on the horizon. But among small signs of cooperation, problems still remain.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Evidence of "possible cooperation" between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church continues between Rome and Moscow. And the playing filed on which they meet remains the struggle for the affirmation of the Christian roots of  Europe "threatened by secularism." The latest episode that gives hope for a real climate of greater proximity between the two Churches, is the presentation (today in Rome) of  "Europe Spiritual Homeland", a bilingual volume in Italian and Russian collecting the speeches that Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI dedicated to Europe over the past  decade. The novel aspect is that for the first time the publisher of the book is the patriarch of Moscow. The introduction to the volume is by the Chairman of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk. The editorial initiative was taken by the Department of External Relations of the Patriarchate in cooperation with the International Association "Sofia".

The publication takes place on the eve of the visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the Vatican where he will meet the Pope.  The leader of the Kremlin will arrive December 3 in Italy on the occasion of bilateral Summits of Heads of State and Government of both countries. In diplomatic circles linked to the Vatican, for the past few months there have been rumours that Russia will open an embassy to the Holy See. A few months ago, Medvedev himself had mentioned, to the Italian press, this possibility.

Kirill since was elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in January, succeeding to Alexi II, the business of meetings, visits and exchanges of messages between representatives of both churches have multiplied. According to Hieromonk Filipp Ryabyh, vice chairman of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow and Spokesman, between Benedict XVI and Kirill there is "absolute identity of views and positions relative to the modern social processes" and the possibility of Catholic-Orthodox cooperation is "huge".

The positive signs are many. Kirill has already met Benedict XVI three times at the Vatican (between 2005 and 2007), when he was chairman of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow. Last summer, the first lady Svetlana Medvedev attended the consecration of the new Orthodox parish in the Russian embassy to Italy. All this seems to point in the right direction. According to the Patriarch, "our positions coincide in the defence of morality and traditional values in the modern world".

But there is a larger node that remains to be resolved. And the Petrine primacy has little to do with it. "We can not ignore the problems that persist in the relations between the Catholic and Orthodox," notes the same Kirill. And the reference is to the issues of Greek-Catholics in Ukraine, the presence of the Patriarchate of Moscow in this country and the alleged proselytizing of the Catholic Church within the "canonical territory of Russia".

 

 

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