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Episcopal Council
President Vladimir Putin
Saturday, 10 March 2007
President Putin and Pope Bendict XVI to meet 13 March 2007
Topic: President Vladimir Putin

Upcoming meeting between Putin and Benedict XVI can help consolidate the position of Christianity in the world - Russian Church


Moscow, March 9, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate has pointed to the importance of the meeting to take place on March 13 between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Benedict XVI for consolidating the position of Christianity in the world.

‘I believe the meeting between the Russian president and the head of the Vatican to be important because at the time of globalization today the European and global communities are increasingly loosing their identities based on traditional norms of ethics and morality’, Bishop Mark of Yegoryevsk, vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, told to Interfax.

‘I believe President Putin can lend his support to the policy pursued by the Vatican in today’s ideological dialogue with Europe as it increasingly moves away from the Church’, the bishop noted.

Bishop Mark suggested that the Russian president and the Vatican head would hardly discuss problems involved directly in relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches, such as a possible papal visit to Moscow, which had been discussed by Putin’s predecessors during their meetings with John Paul II.

‘We have notified the Vatican of all our concerns directly. We have a standing working commission and we have held bilateral meetings on various levels’, he said.

He found it difficult to answer the question if Putin, when in Italy, would discuss the transfer St. Nicholas’s in Bari, since pilgrims visiting Bari need a more noticeable presence of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church there.

Posted by russian-heritage at 2:02 PM EST
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Sunday, 4 March 2007
Ilya II - Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church visiting Russia
Topic: ITAR - TASS

MOSCOW, March 2 (Itar-Tass) -- The consolidation of relations between the Russian and Georgian churches is a guarantee of the preservation of friendship between our two nations, Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, said at a meeting with Ilya II, head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, here on Friday.

The meeting was held in the St. Daniel Monastery. “The consolidation of the pacifying, beneficial impact of the Church, which brings spiritual revival to the people, is the foundation of our hope for the future, for the well-being of Georgia, for accord between its public forces, for unbreakable and eternal friendship between our nations,” said Alexy II. “Our contacts, started many years ago, remain frequent and cordial.”

Alexy II reminded that Ilya II had taken part in the World Religious Summit in Moscow in July 2006. It had been confirmed that time that “we hold similar stands on the problems facing humanity today.”

The Patriarch said as well that “despite all changes in the political situations, all the ups and downs in present-day inter-state relations between Russia and Georgia, traditional close relations between our churches, between all believers, continue to be most friendly and fraternal.”

“We believe in the spiritual force of the peacemaking activities of the Church,” he stressed. Alexy II welcomed the sciences and the cultural personalities who accompany Ilya II in his visit to Moscow. “We praise the contribution made by the Georgian public both in Georgia and in Russia in the preservation of our common cultural heritage, which brings our nations closer together,” Alexy II said.

On Friday night the Georgian delegation, led by Ilya II, will take part in the presentation of the 13th volume of “Orthodox Encyclopaedia”, in which some articles deal with the history of Georgia and the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Russian-Georgian relations are rather complicated today, and in this situation the visit of Ilya II to Moscow could be described as history-making. It is noteworthy that the Georgian delegation, which includes 60 people, came from Tbilisi by a special charter flight. It was the first flight over the past five months, after air traffic between Moscow and Tbilisi was interrupted late in 2006.

Posted by russian-heritage at 3:43 PM EST
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Relations between Vatican, Orthodox Church improving - bishop

VATICAN, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches have begun improving relations and boosting contacts since Benedict XVI was elected Pope, the bishop of Vienna and Austria said Friday.

Bishop Ilarion, a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church at European international organizations, told RIA Novosti that the two Churches have intensified cultural links, but have still not worked out a common position on the problems of Uniatism and Proselytism.

"We should reach a certain progress in the discussion of these problems before speaking about a real improvement of relations," he said.

Uniatism is the union of Orthodox Christian communities with Rome through their acknowledgement of the Pope's universal primacy. These Orthodox communities are subject to papal authority, but follow their own Orthodox rites in worship.

The Catholic Church considers only these communities truly Orthodox.

The Russian Orthodox Church also accuses the Vatican of Proselytism, mainly in Western Ukraine, and attempts to convert Orthodox believers into the Catholic religion.

The Catholic Church claims that it is supporting the existing Catholic community and is not proselytizing.

Referring to foreign media reports about preparations for a meeting between Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Benedict XVI, the bishop said that that is not the essence of the complicated relations between the two churches.

"More importantly, we should reach mutual understanding. In this case, there will be no obstacles to the meeting," he said.

Bishop Ilarion said attempts to organize the meeting were made earlier, but it was canceled when the sides failed to agree on key issues.

"We should work to find a common position, to prepare the meeting, which should mark a breakthrough in relations between the Churches," he said.

He said he hopes the Vatican will take steps to reach understanding, adding that he has no information about the possible date and place of the meeting.

The bishop said the meeting is unlikely to be held either in Russia or in Italy.

"This could be a historic meeting if it opens a new page in the history of our relations," he said.

Speaking about President Vladimir Putin's upcoming meeting with Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Italy in March, Bishop Ilarion said that that is not a mediation between the two Churches.

"The Pope is not only the head of the Church, he is also the head of state. His state duties imply meetings with presidents and prime ministers of different countries," he said.

He praised the development of state contacts with the Vatican, but said church relations will not be on the agenda of the visit.


Posted by russian-heritage at 3:33 PM EST
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President Putin to Attend to Ecumenical Matters
Topic: President Vladimir Putin

ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome

Code: ZE07030206

Date: 2007-03-02

President Putin to Attend to Ecumenical Matters

Will Ask For Keys to Orthodox Church in Bari

ROME, MARCH 2, 2007 ( Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Benedict XVI might help progress Vatican-Orthodox relations, says the director of Rome's Russian Ecumenical Center.

Putin will meet the Holy Father in the Vatican on March 13, confirmed Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office.

Father Sergio Mercanzin told ZENIT that an opportunity for the Church to advance relations with the Orthodox will happen on March 14, when Putin is scheduled to visit the southern Italian city of Bari.

The president will ask Bari's civil authorities, in the name of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate, to hand over possession of the Church of St. Nicholas, as well as the adjacent hospice.

The church and hospice were built in Bari by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1913. Throughout the second millennium Bari has been the object of pilgrimages for Russian Orthodox, who have great devotion to St. Nicholas.

The church was purchased by the city in 1937 in rather unclear circumstances. At present, the municipality has allowed the use of the church for Orthodox liturgical services.

Father Mercanzin said that Putin's request for the hospice will be more difficult. To succeed in his objective, he said, the president might request the Vatican's intercession before the Bari authorities.

The director of the center, dedicated to the promotion of Orthodox spirituality and art, added: "Relations between the Holy See and the patriarchate have taken good steps lately. The visit might promote them."

Posted by russian-heritage at 3:30 PM EST
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Sunday, 8 October 2006
Bishops Signal Closeness to Russian Orthodox
Topic: Episcopal Council

Date: 2006-10-08

Bishops Signal Closeness to Russian Orthodox

Episcopal Council Meets in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, OCT. 8, 2006 ( With its first plenary assembly in Russia, the Council of European Bishops' Conferences showed its closeness to the Orthodox Church for its long witness to the Gospel in this land.

The five-day meeting which ended today in St. Petersburg drew the presidents of the 34 Catholic bishops' conferences -- members of the CCEE.

Monsignor Aldo Giordano, secretary-general of the CCEE, told Vatican Radio: "The first objective of the presence of all the presidents of the conferences of Europe on Russian soil is to show closeness, communion and friendship with the Catholic Church that lives here, but also to express gratitude to those who in these lands have borne witness to the Gospel for centuries, above all the Orthodox Church."

One of the assembly's topics was the situation of religion and the Church in Russia.

"There is in Russia a great tradition of spirituality, a great tradition, also cultural, linked to religion," commented Monsignor Giordano. "On the other hand, however, in recent times Russia is also characterized by what we in the West call the presence of secularization."

"Likewise here, in Russia, also the fruit of long years of Communism, one notes a certain remoteness of the Church, a certain 'ignorance' of the Christian event," the CCEE official continued. So it is "important to understand that here it is also necessary to help us in the area of evangelization. This impels us to ask ourselves how we can collaborate together in this great task."

Monsignor Giordano also described on Vatican Radio the "climate of collaboration" and "mutual esteem" in relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.


"Of course," he added, "one notes in Russia the problems we have inherited from history."

One such problem, he said, "relates to proselytism and therefore the consequent criticism of the Orthodox Church of other Churches, including the Catholic, accused of an action of a proselytizing nature almost as if we wanted to put in our flock the sheep that belong to another Church."

"This certainly requires clarifications. It is necessary to clarify what evangelization really is, what it means to serve the Catholics of this country and, instead, what proselytism means in a negative sense," Monsignor Giordano stressed.

The dynamic that prevailed in the meeting between the Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, was the common vision on the importance of collaborating for the consolidation of Christian values in Europe.

The cardinal, who is president of the episcopal conference of England and Wales, met with the Russian Orthodox patriarch shortly before going to the CCEE assembly in St. Petersburg.

In his visit to the patriarch, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor expressed the desire for "the creation of better relations between the Catholic Church in England" and the Orthodox Church in Russia, according to the Italian bishops' SIR news service.

He also expressed his support of Alexy II's idea about a necessary collaboration between Orthodox and Catholics for the consolidation of Christian values, especially "in secularized Europe."

The Orthodox patriarch stressed the importance of collaboration in Europe, especially at present, given the frequent marginalization of religion from social life.

Moreover, he noted that the Russian Orthodox Church receives "quite positively" Benedict XVI's statements in regard to the development of the dialogue desired by the Pope since the start of his pontificate.

Orthodox Patriarch Alexy also expressed his best wishes for the CCEE's works.

Posted by russian-heritage at 7:35 PM EDT
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