Moscow (AsiaNews) - The visit of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to Poland, the first of a primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, aims to improve relations between Russians and Poles in the context of a necessary alliance between Christians in the face of the challenges of modernity, says Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Department for External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate. In response to those who, in public opinion and in the Polish nationalist right, see the Patriarchate as the long arm of the Kremlin, engaged in imposing its imperialist agenda on former Soviet nations, Hilarion also ruled out any political content of the visit.
Invited by Metropolitan Savva of Warsaw, Kirill will remain in Poland from now until August 19. The culmination of four days will be August 17, the Feast of the Transfiguration [according to the orthodox tradition], the primates of the two Orthodox Churches will celebrate a liturgy at the Holy Monastery of Mount Grabarka, among the most venerated places in Poland. The same day, in Warsaw, Kirill and President of the Polish Catholic Bishops Conference, Msgr. Józef Michalik, will sign a joint statement, this too of great historic significance. The document is structured around the concepts of mutual forgiveness and reconciliation between the two peoples and religious communities whose relationships have suffered from the weight of the historical rivalry between the two countries. "Reconciliation is possible only if it is based on a sincere faith and the help that God gives light to every good initiative," Hilarion said in an interview with Interfax Religion.
"It 's our profound conviction - he added - that relations between the Russian and Polish peoples, often marred by hatred throughout history, war and enmity, can and must improve." "This is not a matter dictated by the political situation, but the challenge of our times," he added. "When traditional values are questioned by a militant secularism and political correctness," Christians must join forces and defend their idea of right and justice, warned the Metropolitan.
As reported by the press office of the Moscow Patriarchate, Kirill will visit various parishes and also meet with Polish political leaders in Warsaw: from the head of state, Bronislaw Komorowski, to President of the Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz.
The voyage of the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church is part of a broader strategy of dialogue launched by the Kremlin with its Polish neighbors in 2010, with the joint construction of the memorial to the victims of Katyn (where, in 1940, the Red Army executed 22 thousand Polish soldiers taken prisoner). The Patriarch himself in mid-July, launched a strong signal by going to visit the monument.
The hope, in the Patriarchate, is that Kirill's historic trip is not spoiled or hijacked by domestic issues, such as the Pussy Riot case. The verdict on the feminist punk band, guilty of sinning against Putin in the cathedral of Moscow, is expected to occur on August 19. If convicted, the three girls are likely to be handed down three years imprisonment, which is considered excessive by many faithful and priests in the Russian Orthodox community who have repeatedly called for an act of mercy by the Patriarch.