The Patriarch should be first to see the icon of Kazan, Vatican official told

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Moscow's Catholics will have to wait before they can pray before the icon of Our Lady of Kazan. A Vatican official told AsiaNews that "since it was given to Patriarch Alexis II it would be rude on our part if someone else in Moscow should see it before him. For this reason the icon will be shielded from the time of its departure from Rome till its handover in the Cathedral of the Dormition."

Catholics in the Russian capital will just have to wait till after next Saturday handover ceremony to pray before the hallowed image. The night vigil they requested, the Vatican official said, is not on the schedule of the delegation's visit to Moscow. It is hoped that local Catholics will show some understanding and accept the Vatican's decision which Orthodox officials respectfully welcomed.

"Whether the icon is given first to his Holiness Patriarch Alexis II or not is an internal Catholic matter, and it is not our place to make suggestions," said Father Igor Vyzhanov, spokesman for Orthodox-Catholic relations at the Department for External Church Relations of Moscow Patriarchate.

Today confirmation came that Mgr. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Catholic Metropolitan of Moscow, will be part of the Catholic delegation that will hand over John Paul II's personal gift to the Patriarch. "We are happy that despite some obstacles our metropolitan bishop was finally included in the delegation so that he can meet the Patriarch in a brotherly fashion," a Moscow Catholic told AsiaNews. "Let us hope that the gift the Holy Father made will convince the Orthodox that our intent is good. Hopefully, it will break the ice between the two Churches."

The Moscow media has shown some interest in the Vatican delegation's visit and handover of the icon of Kazan but has complained that there is little information about the event itself. (AF)