04 May 2006, 17:37
Russian Church proposes to Russia's Catholics to stop 'looking at orthodox, if not through gun-sight, then through very bad binoculars'
Vienna, May 4, Interfax - A Moscow Patriarchate priest called on the Catholics in Russia to renounce biased attitude towards the Orthodox people in the country.
'The situation with regard to the relations between Russian Orthodox people and Catholics can be figuratively presented as two trenches wrapped up in barbed wire and people who sit in them looking at each other, if not through gun-sight, then through very bad binoculars', Father Igor Vyzhanov, Department for External Church Relations secretary for inter-Christian relations, said on Thursday during the Conference 'To Give a Soul to Europe. The Mission and Responsibility of the Churches' taking place in Vienna.
In this situation, the representative of the Russian Church said, one can hardly speak of a response to common challenges, adding, 'God grant that we at least sort things out with each other'.
The priest advised the western Catholics working in Russia 'to try to understand this country and to understand the Church - the Orthodox Church - to which most of its population belongs', and this effort 'takes much tact, patience and carefulness'.
At the same time, the speaker remarked that "the time of 'cavalry-like attacks' made by Catholic missionaries from Eastern Europe has already passed or is passing, and many of Russia's Catholics are already aware of it'.
'Russia cannot be made Catholic. Those who were eager to make her so are now disillusioned with their plans. Those who continue to hope for it should realize that such a way of conversion to their faith will only lead to a new impasse in the dialogue between our two Churches, which we need so much today', the priest stressed.
'We should urgently learn to live and work together in Russia, in Europe and in the world', he added.
Considering that the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue stands in an acute need of 'the patient and painstaking efforts to come to a better knowledge of each other and to mutual internal reconciliation' Father Igor expressed the hope that "children's ills of neophyte attitude of both Russian Orthodox and Catholics will not make our dialogue suffer 'childhood disability'".
'Time will heal these wounds. But we should remember that Orthodox-Catholic relations are still a matter of not external challenges but internal values. If our principal values are Christ and the gospel, our principle challenge should be the attainment of fraternal love for each other. It is the challenge we should meet together', the representative of the Russian Church believes.