- These are days of intensified exchanges between the leaders of the Catholic
Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, who have both revived collaboration on issues
of mutual interest such as the rights of Christians in the Middle East, the
fight against secularism in the West and ecumenical dialogue. This two-weeks
from to the much anticipated visit to theVatican by the Russian President ,
Vladimir Putin, whose policies in the Middle East , especially in Syria, go
hand in hand with the battles promoted by the Orthodox Patriarchate and have
found an unexpected ally in the Pope. Some
claim that the event would contribute to a further rapprochement between the
two sister Churches, which, however, deny there is a need for a "
political mediation" in this sense .
These were the words of theArchbishop of Milan, Card. Angelo Scola following his meeting with Kirill, 12 November , in Moscow. At the same meeting , the Patriarch expressed his appreciation for the work of Pope Francis , noting that " never before have our Churches had so many things in common." "Our historical disagreements cease to play a critical role", was the hope expressed by the Orthodox primate, to which Scola responded saying that ecumenical dialogue "has never hidden the differences, but it is able to overcome them by affirming our shared values," referring to an "ecumenism of the people" already tangible in exchanges between the two communities in the diocese as that of Milan .
This environment of openness and friendliness is also enhanced by the words of the Head of External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate , Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion , who announced on December 12 that talks were underway about the possibility of a " meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow in a neutral country . " Speaking at a news conference after his meeting with the Pope, Hilarion added no more details. On the place and timing of the historic face to face there are only assumptions and rumors. The most reliable see the city of Bari, where there is a strong Orthodox presence as a possibility, but also Vienna or the abbey of Pannonhalma, Hungary. Ecclesiastical circles in Moscow indicate as a likely date 2014, marking the 50th anniversary of the historic 'embrace' in Jerusalem between Paul VI and the Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras. An event which one year later , led to the joint statement erasing the mutual excommunications of nearly one thousand years before.
Hilarion also did not want to comment on Putin's visit to the Vatican, scheduled for November 25 , but still not confirmed by the Kremlin. "This is a visit of the head of state , which does not affect the relations between the Churches", he noted. "We are very grateful to President Putin for the positions he takes on issues of European Christian heritage and values and the defense of Christians in the Middle East - he concluded - a theme that will surely be discussed at the meeting ."
Meanwhile, later this month the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, will travel to Moscow to speak at a conference organized by the Orthodox community . ( M.A. )