06/07/2005, 00.00
VATICAN-RUSSIA
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Russian Foreign Minister in Vatican invites Mgr Lajolo to Moscow

In the Russian capital, Orthodox Patriarch Aleksij II says he wants to cooperate with the Vatican in the defence of Christian values in Europe but still renews his criticism against Catholic 'proselytising'.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – A visit by Russia's Foreign Minister to the Vatican bearing an invitation to the Holy See's 'Foreign Minister' to visit Moscow coupled with statements by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksij II about cooperating with the Vatican in the defence of Christian values in Europe and a demand that the Catholic Church cease using "certain forms of proselytising in our lands" are indicative of stirring relations between the Vatican, Russia and the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate.

The latest moves come after Aleksij II on April 19 sent Pope Benedict XVI his best wishes for a "fruitful dialogue" and following several statements by the new Pontiff about the importance of the relationship with the Orthodox.

Although it may be difficult if not impossible to know how things will evolve, it is clear that something is happening. As the press release signed by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro said: "Today, [. . .] Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov of the Russian Federation paid a visit to the Vatican and met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State. Also present for the talks were Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Secretary for Relations with States, and Vitaly Litvin, Ambassador to the Holy See. Also present for the talks were Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Secretary for Relations with States, and Vitaly Litvin, Ambassador to the Holy See."

"In the course of the meeting there was an exchange of viewpoints on bilateral relations between the Holy See and Russia and on the international situation, with particular regard to the dialogue between cultures and to collaboration within international organizations," the statement also said.

The note ended noting: "The meeting underscored the existing cordial relations and the possibility of further developing them. To this end, Minister Lavrov invited Archbishop Lajolo to Moscow next autumn."

Meanwhile in Moscow, Patriarch Aleksij took advantage of the visit by the President of the Italian House of Deputies, Pier Ferdinando Casini, to declare that "we believers must make a common effort to counter together negative anti-Christian tendencies in today's world".

In his view, the defeat of the European constitution in France and the Netherlands was due to its silence about the "spiritual roots" that are the bases of Europe's civilisation.

Aleksij II also told Casini that he was hopeful that with the new Pope, he would be able to cooperate with the Vatican in the defence of Christian value that in his view were threatened.  

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