11/10/2006, 00.00
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Mgr Kondrusiewicz received by Moscow Patriarchate for first time in years

The Archbishop of the Mother of God was received by Metropolitan Kirill. They highlighted the "union" of the two churches in facing challenges posed by the modern world. The Orthodox Patriarchate requested "coordination" of respective local activities. The problem of orphanages and new parishes was discussed.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – A meeting of "great importance" took place between the Russian Catholic and Orthodox Churches at the Moscow Patriarchate on 8 November. It was described in these terms by one of the protagonists, Mgr Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop of the Mother of God, who talked about a "new climate" in ties between the two Churches. He told AsiaNews about the significance of his audience with Metropolitan Kirill, Chairman of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow.

Kondrusiewicz said: "For years, I had been asking to be received by the Metropolitan but I only managed to meet him on external occasions." The meeting, described by both parties as "cordial and sincere" focused on two issues: confirming the shared positions of the two Churches about the "challenges of modernity", chiefly secularization of the modern world, and problems linked to the activities of the Catholic Church in the country, especially the running of orphanages.

Mgr Kondrusiewicz said there was a "positive" exchange of ideas: "First of all, we agreed that our Churches are united in facing challenges of the contemporary world and secularization." He added:  "This should encourage us to testify together to Christian values in society and to resolve more practical problems linked to, for example, the setting up of new parishes, pastoral activities and orphanages."

In this regard, Metropolitan Kirill asked that the Catholic Church coordinate and inform the Patriarchate about its initiatives to avoid "suspicion and misunderstanding". Presumed Catholic proselytism is one of the age-old issues fuelling tension between the two Churches in Russia. At the heart of the controversy is the setting up of new parishes and orphanages run by the Catholics. Kondrusiewicz gave assurance of full collaboration and stressed that the orphanages were open to the Orthodox clergy who had the right to undertake pastoral ministry with children: "In Moscow, in an orphanage run by Salesians, an Orthodox priest celebrates baptisms and holds encounters with the youth. He has been doing so for some time. I think this is a good example of collaboration." New parishes pose still less of a problem for the archbishop: "We have reached the maximum number of parishes and there are no plans to have more, so much so that 25% of existing ones do not have any places of worship and Mass is held in apartments. This is the real problem for us today." Anyhow, Kondrusiewicz assured that "no one has any interests in doing anything in the dark."
The Archbishop of the Mother of God said: "Today, there is a new climate between Orthodox and Catholics and all that is needed is to work well on both sides, to renew our meetings and to do everything possible to normalize our relations: the world expects a shared Christian witness from us."

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