Russia's Catholic bishops pray for peace
The 56th plenary assembly of the Bishops' Conference met in St Petersburg. Devote every effort to the defence of the Church's rights and religious freedom. Attention to the formation of candidates for the priesthood. The Church must be free from all forms of constraint and violence.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The 56th plenary assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia (Kker) was held a few days ago in the "Mary Queen of Apostles" seminary in St Petersburg, under the presidency of the archbishop of the Mother of God in Moscow, MSgr Paolo Pezzi. In attendance were the bishop of the Transfiguration in Novosibirsk, Msgr Josif Werth, the bishop of St Joseph's in Irkutsk, Msgr Kirill Klimovič, the bishop of St Clement's in Saratov, Msgr Klemens Pikkel, together with the auxiliary bishop of Moscow and St Petersburg, Msgr Nikolaj Dubinin (Ofm Conv), the apostolic nuncio Msgr Giovanni D'Aniello and the secretary of the Kker, Fr Stefan Lipke (Sj).
The conference was also attended by the nunciature's advisor, Mgr Petr Tarnavsky, the director of the charity foundation 'Renovabis', Fr Tomas Schwartz, the directors of the Union of Religious Communities of Russia (Corsum), Sister Oksana Britik (Usjk) and Fr Darij Kharasimovič (Ofm Conv), together with the rector of the seminary, Mgr Sergei Timašov.
The bishops renewed their appeal to Catholics and believers of all confessions to pray for peace for all mankind, and in particular for the people of Ukraine and Russia, accompanying their prayer with fasts and acts of mercy. Heartfelt thanks were expressed to the collaborators of "Caritas Southern Russia" and to all those who have helped refugees "from all backgrounds and orientations", hoping for an ever greater involvement with all people of good will, both in this field and in all forms of care for the needy.
In the current "atmosphere of tension", the Kker calls on priests to make every effort to defend the rights of the Church, and first and foremost the right of believers to the freedom to profess their faith, especially in hospitals, places of detention and all other social institutions. All restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic were lifted, calling all priests and believers to maintain reasonable measures of care and prevention. The importance of the service of religious communities and consecrated persons was recalled, expressing the desire to increasingly strengthen fruitful cooperation with them.
Special attention was paid to the formation of candidates for the priesthood, noting the positive dynamics of the seminary, and advocating the importance of further development of the pre-seminary. The laity now have the opportunity to receive theological training at the "St John Chrysostom" Institute at the St Petersburg Seminary, currently only in presence, but distance participation is also being prepared.
Great thanks were expressed for the fruits of the synod process, which is to continue in the discussion of important issues, in the spirit of openness and dialogue within the local Churches, and also participating in the continental dimensions of Europe and Asia, and at the universal level, until the autumn of 2024. A wish of the Russian bishops is the further development of contacts with the local Churches of other countries, renewing the tradition of meetings with the Catholic bishops of Central Asia.
The bishops intend to do everything possible to ensure that the Catholic Church in Russia is increasingly an area free of all forms of constraint and violence, both for children and young people, and for adults. To this end, training courses are proposed at all levels, particularly for those involved in accompanying victims of violence in various contexts.
In 2023, the Church in Russia will commemorate a number of significant events, such as the 240th anniversary of the original eparchy of Mogilev, 150 years since the consecration of the Pro-Cathedral of the Assumption in St. Petersburg, and also 100 years since the confiscation of church property by the Bolsheviks. These anniversaries will also provide an opportunity to clarify the many concerns about the current management of Catholic church property and buildings, especially in the city of Moscow.