08/23/2004, 00.00
RUSSIA - VATICAN
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Russian Catholics ask to pray before the icon of Our Lady of Kazan

Moscow's Catholic Archbishop is not invited to the handover of the icon of Our Lady of Kazan.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – A group of parishioners from Moscow's Immaculate Conception Cathedral asked the Archbishop of Moscow Mgr. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz whether they could pray before the icon of Our Lady of Kazan ahead of its handover to the Orthodox Church in the Kremlin.

Moscow's Catholics want to pray to Our Lady in a night vigil for Christian unity before the precious icon is handed over to the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow Alexis II. "For us the opportunity to pray even for a short while before a gift by the Pope would come as a great joy," a parishioner told AsiaNews.

On Saturday, August 28, a Vatican delegation headed by Walter Cardinal Kasper will give the icon to the Patriarch in the Kremlin's Church of the Dormition as a personal gift of the Pope to the Orthodox Church so that it may be venerated by the entire Russian people.

Moscow's Catholics do not know as yet whether their wish to worship before the icon shall be granted. The schedule of the Vatican delegation's visit has not yet been announced. All that is known is that the Holy See's representatives will arrive in the afternoon of August 27 and shall stay at a hotel of the Moscow Patriarchate rather than at the Apostolic Nunciature.

On the morning of August 28 they will hand the icon over to Patriarch Alexis II in the Kremlin, but neither Archbishop Kondrusiewicz nor Moscow's Catholics were invited to the solemn occasion.

This is not the first time the Archbishop of Moscow has not been invited to such events. He was not invited when Dominican friars from Bari (Italy) gave the Orthodox Patriarch relics of Saint Nicholas in March 2001, neither was he present when Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop of Terni (Italy), gave Alexis II relics of Saint Valentine in January 2003.

According to experts in ecumenical dialogue extending an invitation to Bishop Kondrusiewicz and Moscow's Catholics would go a long way in improving relations between Catholics and Orthodox in Russia. (VK)

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