12/29/2017, 16.04
RUSSIA - VATICAN

Aleksandr Avdeev: 'Broad cooperation' between Moscow and the Holy See

by Vladimir Rozanskij

In an interview with RIA-Novosti, the Russian ambassador to the Holy See underlines the common threats to which Russia and the Vatican must respond: family, marriage, birth and the education of children. Increased collaboration after the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Havana. Commitment in theological and cultural dialogue. Possibility of Papal visit to Moscow ever closer.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Russian Federation's ambassador to the Holy See, Aleksandr Avdeev, yesterday gave a wide-ranging interview to the Russian RIA-Novosti agency, illustrating the prospects for collaboration between Russia and the Vatican in the face of the many challenges of contemporary society.

"The current situation in the world offers a broad space for cooperation, to counter the destruction of the ethical-moral foundations of Christian civilization, which refer to both believers and non-believers," says Avdeev. And he continues: "Both our Churches see this as a great threat. The institution of family and marriage, the birth and education of children is being destroyed. People begin to live according to norms not of Christian civilization, and this cannot but worry both Catholics and Orthodox ".

According to the Russian ambassador, the current state of relations between the two Churches is very promising, especially in the depth of dialogue. "This dialogue has been greatly aided by the Pope's statements in Rome on two issues that have always divided the Orthodox from the Catholics. First of all, the pope condemned proselytism as a sin. It is the first statement of this kind, probably, throughout the history of the papacy. Furthermore, he argued that collaboration and dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox must be carried out under conditions of equal dignity, and according to the principle that everyone must remain himself".

In this regard, the diplomat recalls the decisions made during the historic meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill and Pope Francis in Cuba, in February 2016. In his opinion, the spirit of the Havana declaration is now confirmed by concrete actions. "The Churches collaborate in providing humanitarian aid to the Middle East, and we exchange work experience in the social sphere. I must point out that our experience is of great interest to the Vatican, especially in the context of relations between Christians and Muslims on the territory of Russia. Five centuries of coexistence of this kind show that where Christians and Muslims can live together, the situation is much calmer. And this is an experience that is lacking for Catholics".

Continuing his reasoning with the RIA-Novosti correspondent, Avdeev also notes that "we Russians are very interested in the experience of Catholics in the field of religious formation and the preservation of family values. It is sufficient to remember that the last two synods of the Roman Catholic Church have been dedicated to the situation of the family in all regions of the world. A detailed analysis was presented according to 14 parameters, including the condition of abandoned and lonely children, the tax burden of young families and other specific issues. An analysis of this kind has not been accomplished even at the UN ".

Avdeev also recalls that at present the council for collaboration between the two Churches, led by Metropolitan Ilarion together with Cardinal Koch, and the Committee on Culture, under Bishop Tikhon and Cardinal Ravasi, are active. Precisely cultural collaboration has proved particularly fruitful in recent months; The ambassador has reported some important exhibitions currently in program, one on the new martyrs of the twentieth century and one on ecclesiastical architecture, and also a third one showing the works of the Russian painter Leonid Brailovskij, preserved in the archive of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, which can be admired for the first time in Russia.

Ultimately, the representative of the Russian Federation in Rome emphasizes that "at present our relations are distinguished by the growth of trust. President Putin's two visits to the Vatican, his telephone conversations with Pope Francis have established a relationship of personal trust. There is mutual sympathy, which is based not only on ecclesiastical matters, but also on the main international issues. Moreover, there is a great harmony in our positions of foreign policy: take any international problem, and you will immediately find great closeness between the positions of the Vatican and those of Russia ". The ambassador stresses that, despite the smallness of its territory, the Vatican City state really has a perspective that touches the most global interests, being responsible for 1.2 billion Catholics. The apex of the official relations between the two countries was the visit to Russia by Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, last August, in which the Russian president himself received the Holy See's envoy at his Sochi residence.

Lately, Russia and the Vatican have also agreed on another delicate issue, both expressing their opposition to the decision of US President Donald Trump to open the US embassy in Jerusalem: "As the Pope said, Jerusalem it is the sacred city of the three Abrahamic religions, and it should not be politicized making it the capital of a state ". Responding to the question about the prospects for a visit by the Pope to Russia, Avdeev cited the words of Metropolitan Ilarion: "Each passing day brings us closer to this event".

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