12/03/2008, 00.00
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Russian version of Benedict XVI's "Jesus of Nazareth" presented in Moscow

With an initial printing of 20,000 copies, the Russian-language version of the pope's book dedicated to Jesus has been released. The presentation featured remarks by Igor Vyžanov, secretary of the department for external relations at the patriarchate of Moscow, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, and nuncio Archbishop Antonio Mennini.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Cultural Center Library of the Spirit in Moscow has hosted the presentation of the Russian edition of "Jesus of Nazareth" by Benedict XVI. Speaking at the event on December 2 were Fr. Igor Vyžanov, secretary of the department for external relations at the patriarchate of Moscow, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Antonio Mennini, and the director of the Azbuka publishing house, Denis Veselov.

The initial printing of the book, 20,000 copies, reveals the publisher's expectations for the pope's book. Veselov explains: "We published it because it seemed to us an important book for everyone, which takes us back 1,000 years ago, when divisions were outweighed by a common Christian identity, when we were all Christians."

The theologian Ratzinger is not unknown to the Russian public. In 2006, his "Introduction to Christianity" was published by the Library of the Spirit in Moscow, with a preface by Metropolitan Kirill, president of the department for external relations at the patriarchate of Moscow.

Fr. Igor Vyžanov (shown in the photo giving his speech) hailed the decision of the Azbuka publishing house, connecting it to the previous one in 2006, which indicates the terrain on which authentic ecumenism can grow.

In this regard, the representative of the patriarch of Moscow explained: "I often participate in international encounters or forums with other Christians, but too often they talk about the consequences of Christianity - protection of the environment, the cultural problem (which are certainly important) - but they forget that the foundation of everything is Christ. This book brings us back to the center of our faith."

Archbishop Pezzi, presenting the contents of the volume and replying to the questions of the public, emphasized the "fascinating paradox" of "Jesus of Nazareth," written by the pope as both an ordinary believer and an impassioned scholar "who for his entire life has striven to deepen his personal knowledge of Jesus and the reasons for his faith in Him."

Highlighting the relevance of the witness given by the pope's book, the archbishop affirmed that "'Jesus of Nazareth' is the book of a 'European of our time' who has seen and lived from the inside, as a protagonist, the difficult travail of the encounter-clash between science and faith unique to our time. But from this travail he emerged strengthened and enriched in the reasons of his faith, and so he wants to communicate these to us."

Archbishop Mennini emphasized the centrality of the relationship between faith and reason in the book, and more generally in the teaching of Benedict XVI. The nuncio called attention to the common thread that connects, in this sense, the addresses of the Pope in Regensburg, at the La Sapienza University of Rome, and at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris.

Placing "Jesus of Nazareth" beside a classic like "The Lord" by Guardini, Archbishop Mennini then emphasized some points of harmony between Ratzinger's thought and the Eastern Christian tradition: these include love of monasticism and insistence on the truth as an integral experience.

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