11/11/2013, 00.00
VATICAN - RUSSIA

Card. Scola in Moscow, ecumenism grows from encounter between the faithful

Ecumenical dialogue conducted "at a grass roots level" and not just in commissions, but also the relationship with Islam and defense of Christian values at the heart of the visit of the Archbishop of Milan to the Patriarch of Moscow. The impending visit of Putin to the Pope : "Very pleased , Russia is a fundamental point of reference in the new world order ."

Moscow (AsiaNews) - First of all the issue of the "life of the Orthodox diocese of Milan", but probably also the "common work in dialogue with Islam" and the protection of the Christian communities in the Middle East; these are the issues at the center of the "courtesy call" paid by the Archbishop of Milan, Card. Angelo Scola, to the Patriarch of Moscow , Kirill tomorrow , November 12, the Cardinal told press yesterday, the first of his three-day visit to Moscow at the invitation of the Archbishop of Mother of God , Msgr. Paolo Pezzi . Despite "not being related" to the forthcoming audience of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, with the Pope - as the same Scola was keen to stress - the visit is framed within a flurry of exchanges between the two Churches. In fact, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk , chairman of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, is currently in Rome to meet Pope Francis and present the book "Word of God and the word of man," with contributions by the Russian philologist Serghei Averintsev . At the end of the month, then , the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family , Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia , is expected in Moscow to speak at a conference organized by the Orthodox Church, on the theme of family.

"The motive for my visit of courtesy to the Patriarch - said Scola -  is to speak to him about the situation of the Orthodox faithful in Milan, how we relate to them, giving them churches where they can celebrate the divine liturgy and our experience of a greatly fraternal relationship". The Cardinal notes that it is at this "grass roots level" that ecumenical dialogue is most effective. "Doctrinal and theological commissions are important as are commitment on issues common to the two Churches like the family, justice , life - he said , defining the presence of the Orthodox in the diocese of Milan as "constructive".  This offers another opportunity: for the faithful to meet and share the beauty , goodness and truth of their encounter with the Lord. "I think , in the last 30-40 years , there the firm conviction of the indispensability of ecumenical dialogue has arisen among all Christian denominations, encouraged by the current mixing of cultures" said the cardinal, who would not be drawn on the possibility of a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow, long overdue. "I'm not a fortune teller", he joked , then added , citing the Gospel of St. John: "One thing is clear , as Jesus said : ' That they may be one so that the world may believe .'" "The prospect of unification - he pointed out at a press conference ahead of his intervention at the conference; "Identity, otherness, universality" at the Orthodox St. John Chrysostom University - must be in the heart of every Christian " .

For many experts, it is not obvious that Putin's visit to Pope Francis may facilitate the rapprochement between the two sister Churches . Indeed, it is unclear whether the audience in the Vatican - not yet officially confirmed by the Kremlin - was sought with the approval of the Moscow Patriarchate , which has not yet commented on the possible significance of this meeting . Of course, Pope Francis and the head of the Russian state will talk about the Middle East and the defense of Christians in the region, issues that they already share in their joint battle for a political and diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis. Card. Scola said he was "very happy " at the perspective meeting, defining Putin as "a fundamental point of reference for the building of a new world order".

Deeply involved with the Oasis Foundation in interreligious dialogue, Scola also did not rule out talking to Kirill about relations with Islam. 20 million Muslims live in Russia and the country is increasingly posing itself as a bridge between East and West on the international stage . "I do not know how the meeting with the Patriarch will develop - said the archbishop of Milan - certainly dialogue with Islam is a very important common theme and I always find it great sensitivity on the Orthodox side, and awareness of the decisiveness of this issue for the future not only of Europe but of the whole world". "The number one problem is not dialogue, but deepening our knowledge of one another in front of a current ignorance on both sides ," he concluded. ( M.A. )

 

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