12/27/2005, 00.00
RUSSIA
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We share the "one and only joy of Bethlehem", says Bishop of Moscow

During Christmas celebrations in Moscow's Catholic Cathedral, Mgr Kondrusiewicz turns his thoughts to Orthodox believers, who will celebrate the festivity on January 7 in accordance with the Julian calendar. A planned picket line "to defend the Russian Christmas" was called off.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Despite different calendars, Catholics in Moscow invited the Orthodox to share the "one and only joy in Bethlehem". In Russia only Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans as well as some Methodists, Baptists and Pentecostals celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25 in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. By contrast, the Russian Orthodox Church as well as some Protestant Churches continue to follow the old Julian calendar and will thus celebrate Christmas on January 7.

During Christmas mass in Moscow's Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Metropolitan Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz called on the faithful to focus on the spiritual character of Christmas, reminding them that the "joy of the feast is in the light of the truth that disperses the darkness of sin."

He added that "from the moment of His Nativity, Christ has aspired to enter into history of all people."

The archbishop also turned his thoughts to Orthodox believers who are preparing to celebrate their Christmas. He said that despite different calendars "we share one and only joy of Bethlehem".

On Christmas Eve, the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, Aleksij II, sent his Christmas Greetings to the leaders of the main Christian Churches of the country.

Some Orthodox has threatened to disrupt Russian Catholics' Christmas celebrations by organising a picket line in front of Moscow's Catholic Cathedral in order "to defend the Russian Christmas".

However, negative public reactions led the instigator of the initiative, Deacon Andrej Kuraev, to call off the plan.

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