Moscow (AsiaNews) - Medvedev’s first visit to the Pope after the normalization of diplomatic relations has been widely reported in Russian media, rather than his political and economic meetings with the Italian government. The outcome of the visit to the Holy See was the appointment Saturday last of the new Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation, Msgr. Ivan Jurkovic. But some experts diminish the significance of the meeting and explain: it was just a "formality", the Kremlin needed to legitimise itself in public opinion and is virtually useless in the development of relations between the two Churches.
This is the opinion of Professor Anatoly Krasikov, director of the Centre for Religion and Society at the European Law Institute of. According to the academic - who attended the first visit by a Soviet leader to the Vatican, that of Nikolai Podgorny in 1967 with Paul VI - the Russian government "does not feel empowered enough and makes use of every opportunity to increase its prestige. The visit to the Pope was one of those. " "Our political leadership - he continues – does not feel sufficiently legitimised: the elections are a farce and the ruling party’s approval rating is falling." So on the domestic front, it clings to the Russian Orthodox Church: "The political authorities have the same positions of most of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, who are trying to turn a small party in their favour."
Married to a fervent Christian Orthodox, the Russian president - who after three years in power is still trying to distance himself from his Prime Minister and predecessor, Putin – wants to present himself as someone who definitely will pave the way for relations between the Vatican and Russian Orthodox Church, becoming the architect for religious dialogue, which he has been focusing on a lot recently. "This is not possible - Krasikov states - because the Russian state still has no influence in the development of relations between the two Churches, not even under the Soviet Union, so much so that no leader of that time ever raised this question in a meeting with the Pope.
It will now be the task of the new nuncio to continue a constructive dialogue with the Moscow Patriarchate, which was established also thanks to eight years of work of the previous Vatican, “ambassador “Msgr. Antonio Mennini. Efforts that will now be officially recognized by Russia: Dmitry Medvedev has announced his intention to award him the Order of Friendship medal for his contribution to the improvement of relations between Moscow and the Vatican. Fifty years of Slovenian origin, Msgr. Jurkovic has already worked in Moscow, between 1992 and 1996, in the Holy See’s office there, before being accredited as the first nuncio in Belarus, and Ukraine. He is expected to arrive soon in Moscow.