Moscow (AsiaNews) - "The Catholic community in Russia is a minority and must cooperate with the Orthodox only then we'll be able to develop to the utmost. So, let's say we are interested in strong Orthodoxy". These are the words of the Secretary General of the Conference of Russian Catholic Bishops Fr. Igor Kovalevsky, interviewed by the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper.
In the interview the priest stresses the similarities rather than the differences between the two Churches: "We have almost the same teachings on many issues" and "the only thing that divides us is basically the role of the Pope, the bishop of Rome." The two communities, continues Fr Kovalevsky, have the same values and should protect them facing the challenges of modern secularism. For the priest, Europe today needs a re-evangelization after having lost its Christian roots, "It 'a very serious problem, the greatest challenge from contemporary European culture is its anti-religiosity, a front on which Benedict XVI has always been committed. Catholics - he added - are also having to disprove the stereotype that links Catholicism to contemporary Western culture, which instead tends to keep God out of society.
On the age old question of a possible meeting between Pope and Patriarch of Moscow Kirill, Fr. Kovalevsky reiterates positions already expressed by the Russian Orthodox Church: "Neither Catholics nor Orthodox want the meeting to be mere protocol. And this is why, it is up to God to decide when this will be".
In the interview another age-old problem also emerges; that of a lack of parishes in Moscow. Today in Russia most Catholics are concentrated in the capital, where - the secretary of the Bishops' Conference points out- two churches and a third under construction "are too few." In Moscow and its environs, there are about 50 thousand faithful, but there are fewer churches than those in St. Petersburg. "It 's our main problem in the capital - he says - until the 1917 Revolution there was the church of St. Ludwig and the parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Moscow. The latter was confiscated and a new place of worship, the church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, was erected, which today is our cathedral. The church of Saints Peter and Paul, unfortunately, was privatized and the courts gave legitimacy to this act". The majority of Catholics are not Russian citizens, but Polish, German or Lithuanian and celebrations are all in Russian. (NA)