Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Holy Year as an opportunity to boost the cooperation and communication between Catholics and Orthodox "in the field", in support of the family, the poor, prisoners and the disabled.
This is how the Jubilee of Mercy will unfold in Russia, according to Msgr. Paolo Pezzi, archbishop of the Mother of God in Moscow. Here too, on December 13, for the first time in history a Holy Door was opened: It is not just located in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but several have been opened across the vast country: from chapels in prisons, to the North Pole.
"To be precise it is in Murmansk - mgr. Pieces - the parish further north and although I do not know how many will be able to get there on a pilgrimage, I wanted a Holy Door to have a strong symbolic value: there is no condition in which we live that can impede us from experiencing mercy". "This - added the archbishop - is what I want to communicate to the faithful, while the other wish is that in this Year of Mercy, the possibility that these Holy Doors can be an occasion for many Catholics to return to the Church."
There are 10 Holy Doors including the Archdiocese of the Mother of God, which is spread over Moscow where the Russian faithful will go on pilgrimage. These include Murmansk, but also St. Catherine in St. Petersburg, Perm, Vladimir, Orel, Tula, Kaliningrad and Chernogorsk.
"On the day we opened the Holy Door in Moscow - recalls Msgr. Pezzi - I really realized the Pope’s genius in wanting to create the Holy Doors worldwide: Mercy is an experience that we can bring, wherever there is the Church lived in the experience of a Christian community, even tiny, living and recognizing that, as the Pope says, 'misericordiata', that is, first of all love".
Worldwide these Holy Doors are not only located in different cities, but also in other places, such as prisons, for example: "We have two chapels in two prisons, that will have this function even if we have not given public notice of this. Actually one of these chapels is in my diocese in the Kaliningrad region, where I will be during Holy Week "(the other is in the diocese of St Clement in Saratov).
In fact, prisons are an example of existing concrete collaboration between Catholics and Orthodox priests. "But there are also other joint initiatives we are working with them in several areas: first of all the family." The idea, anticipates the archbishop, is to start, "a joint working group to help in the practical everyday witness and experiences of the family as such, rather than something that is purely theoretical ". The idea has already been proposed by the archdiocese to the Patriarchate of Moscow and is now in development.
Another project that is "still on paper" is to organize initiatives for those most in need and the poor "to help society and also the general public not to avoid questions and human problems, not to pretend that there are none, as is the case with the disabled against which there is still a strong prejudice due to shame". "The idea of a permanent joint working group that during the year educates the general public by, for example, going out into the Catholic and Orthodox parishes to give witness and involve the faithful in this type of activity."
The Archdiocese of the Mother of God has scheduled two pilgrimages to Rome for the Holy Year, in April and September. "It is tradition for an act of repentance and acceptance of God's mercy," says Msgr. Pieces, adding that "we are also studying the possibility of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the autumn, but it depends on the situation."
The Russian Catholic Church has decided to "intensify the pilgrimages local churches, where the Holy Door of Mercy were opened ". "Already on December 13, here in Moscow, we had a pilgrimage to the Mass and it was a moving procession - recalls the Archbishop - many spontaneously came, some from the metrò, others from their own home, some walking even 15-20 km to get to the cathedral. "
Mercy was also at the center of the homily of Mgr. Pieces for Christmas. "The experience of Mercy is an experience for everyone and Christmas tells us this: God was made man by the mercy of God, which is the heart of God and the most beautiful experience; is the opportunity to begin again, there is nothing for which I have been condemned in advance, I can always start over again, this is for everyone and not just for some Christmas tells us that too. "