05/21/2007, 00.00
RUSSIA – VATICAN
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In Moscow Catholics remember John Paul II’s birthday

The “Days of John Paul II,” a series of conferences and prayers commemorating the late pontiff on his 87th birthday, ended yesterday. Mgr Kondrusiewicz highlighted the fact that the commemoration coincided with the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church. Following the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion, the Vatican expressed hope for greater dialogue between the two sister Churches.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The “Days of John Paul II,” a three-day series of conferences sponsored by the Catholic Church of Russia to commemorate the late Pontiff, ended yesterday. Begun on Friday May 18 and John Paul II’s birthday, they included prayers in Roman Catholic churches in Russia, and were brought to a close by a memorial meeting on Sunday in the presence of Mgr Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio, and Mr Jerzy Bahr, Poland’s ambassador to Moscow.

At the opening of the event, Mgr Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, archbishop of the diocese of the Mother of God, stressed the fact that the commemoration of John Paul II was happening at the same time that the Russia Orthodox Church was officially ending 80 years of division.

John Paul II “always took an interest in Russia, in how it was living, in how the Russian Orthodox Church was living, and took to heart difficulties that Russia was encountering," the archbishop said.

In a letter to Aleksji II, patriarch of Moscow and All the Russias, Kondrusiewicz expressed his joy for the official reunification on May 17 of the local branch of the Russian Orthodox Church with the one set up abroad.

“The healing of the schism and the Eucharistic reunification of Orthodox Christians will have a deep peacemaking effect on the entire Russian society, on the hearts and minds of our compatriots living both in Russia and outside of it," Kondrusiewicz said.

Similarly, Card Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, wrote to Aleksji II. In his letter, he expressed his hope that the Act of Canonical Communion “will give impetus to deeper relations with other Churches in the common desire to achieve greater Christian unity.”

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