05/02/2018, 09.34
RUSSIA-ALBANIA
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Patriarch Kirill: True faith defeats terrorism. Hilarion: Unity with Catholics impossible

by Vladimir Rozanskij

On his visit to Albania, the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow invoked the unity of the Christian Churches to disarm religious radicalism. On the same day, his closest collaborator, Hilarion, pulled the breaks on ecumenical leaps. Between Catholics and Orthodox there is a common faith, but too many "contradictions and misunderstandings", such as the work of Card. Stepinac and that of the Greek-Catholics (uniates).

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev), went on an official visit to Albania from April 28 to 30, where he was welcomed by the Archbishop of Tirana Anastas (Janullatos), leader of the Orthodox in the Land of Falcons. Kirill and Anastas, who has long been an Orthodox missionary in Africa, have also been close friends for over 50 years, and the visit took place in a particularly relaxed atmosphere. The Russian Patriarch said he was "impressed" by the growth of the Church in Albania, which reaches about 7% of the population.

According to Kirill, the most important thing is not only the construction of new churches and monasteries, social and educational activities, but the fact that "the Albanian Church today is able to speak with its people in a language understandable to it, in which it can understand what Christianity is in history ". In an interview with Albanian TV on April 29, the Russian Patriarch answered some questions, including one on the importance of religion in the fight against terrorism and radicalism. He stated that "there is no other argument other than the religious one, able to disarm the ideological foundation of radicalism and terrorism. If radicals appeal to religious truths and use religious ideals to motivate their extremist actions, then only true religiousness can refute them, through the intervention of their own religious organizations".

When asked whether religion should be involved in politics, Kirill recalled that "religion and politics cannot be two sides of the same coin". They are phenomena of a different order: politics is the means of government of the masses and of the peoples, of the States and among the States. Religion, on the other hand, according to the patriarch, takes care of the soul of a people, of their conscience and morality. Despite this "the Church has the right to give a moral evaluation of politics, to protect the faithful and all men from the actions of politicians that can lead to moral and material damage". The Muscovite patriarch emphasized the great unity between the Churches of Russia and Albania, addressing the best wishes to the Albanian people, in a period of history "in which civilization develops in a tumultuous way, through numerous crises", and it is therefore fundamental that people keep their "integrity".

The same April 29, in an interview with Russia 24 television, his main collaborator, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev) said that unity with the Catholic Church, on the other hand, is practically impossible. "Although the foundations of our faith are the same, and the symbol of faith is almost identical, Catholics have another conception of the procession of the Holy Spirit," said the prelate. He also insisted on the divisions of the last millennium, "in which many contradictions and misunderstandings accumulated". Hilarion declared himself sceptical about the recent statements by the patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, according to which the union between the two branches of Christianity is inevitable.

As an example of the difficulty of this process, the metropolitan recalled the canonizations of the saints impossible to accept by the Orthodox, including the eventual canonization of the Croatian Cardinal Stepinac of Zagreb. For the Catholics he enjoys a reputation for holiness, while for the Serbian Orthodox Church he was guilty of serious faults during the Second World War, participating in the genocide of the Serbian people. Hilarion also cited the various attempts to force the Orthodox to join the Catholic Church, and in particular the constant anti-Orthodox activity of the uniates in Ukraine.

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