» 06/04/2014, 00.00
RUSSIA - VATICAN
Pope Francis sends message to Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill: I am ready to meet
AsiaNews sources say the message was brought to Kirill personally by the director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, who performed in the Russian capital while the Pope met with Bartholomew in the Holy Land.
(AsiaNews) - While on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he
embraced the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, the Pope
also sent a "personal message" to the Russian Orthodox Patriarch,
Kirill, saying that "he is willing to meet at any place". This
is according to AsiaNews sources in Moscow's
Synodal Department for External Relations, who say the message was delivered by
Palombella, director of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir, which performed in
Moscow on 27 May, to mark the fifth anniversary of the Patriarch's enthronement.
words were relayed in private, "in front of very few people" on the
margins of the concert held in conjunction with the Synodal Choir of the Moscow
same sources say that Kirill limited his response to "thanks" for the
"precious gift" made to him by "friends in Rome". Several
attempts to contact the director of the Sistine Chapel choir for a comment have
to sources in the Catholic community in Moscow, the timing of the message was
not random: during the days when he was meeting with Bartholomew - who
the Moscow Patriarchate sees as a rival within the Orthodox world - the Argentinian
Pope wanted to reiterate his interest in also having good relations
with the Russian Orthodox Church.
It is not clear
whether the offer was met with appreciation by Moscow. On May 28 , Kirill spoke
of a "cooling" in relations with the Vatican, linked to Greek -
Ukrainian Catholics involvement in the Maidan Square protests in Kiev and their
- in his opinion - "Russia-phobic" positions. The primate has warned
that the situation in the former Soviet Republic casts "very sad
shadow" over relations between the Patriarchate and the Holy See. According
to sources in the Orthodox community, the Patriarch's words "were not
addressed directly to the Pope, whose work he continues to appreciate, but in
general to those in the Catholic Church who have no interest in ecumenical
This position is
reflected in recent statements by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of
the Synodal Department for External Church Relations. "There
is a part of the Catholic Church that is investing energy, talent and resources
to strengthen the interaction between Catholics and Orthodox, while another is
doing everything possible to create distrust and enmity", denounced the
metropolitan during a June 3 address to a Congress in
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Pope tells young people to remember the past, to have courage in the present and hope for the future
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