06 October 2006, 17:57
Cooperation between the Orthodox and Catholics is necessary for spiritual revival of Europe - Moscow Patriarchate
St. Petersburg, October 6, Interfax - The dialogue between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches is necessary both for them and the contemporary European society, the deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for external church relations archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin is convinced.
‘I am confident that our two Churches need cooperation today. Even more this cooperation is needed by people seeking spiritual truth in many European countries, in the west of the continent in particular,’ Rev. Vsevolod told Interfax in the intermission of the plenary session of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) being held in the Catholic seminary in St. Petersburg.
He congratulated the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia and its president bishop Joseph Wert on the success of the CCEE plenary session in Russia.
‘This assembly is an unexampled one in our country, as so many Catholic hierarchs, eleven cardinals including, never gathered at one place and at one time in Russia,’ Rev. Vsevolod underscored.
He remarked that Russia is experiencing religious revival, which can be also seen in that even more people adhere to church traditions, keep the fast, read religious literature and keep religious symbols and icons at home. He recalled the words of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia: ‘Undoubtedly, elderly women are in minority among the believers today.’
‘We must make this spiritual revival the property of the entire Europe,’ said the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church and added that there are many fields of cooperation between the Orthodox and the Catholics today, for instance, ‘witness about Christian moral values, dialogue with the authorities at the European and national levels, support of the family life and many others.’
According to Rev. Vsevolod, one cannot say that there are no problems in the relations between the two Churches at present. He recalled that these relations ‘arrived at their climax in the 1960-70s, but, unfortunately, retrogressed in the late 1980s and in 1990s.’
‘Certain external religious forces attempted to see the territory of the former Soviet Union as a spiritual desert that may be subjected to their religious influence very soon,’ the Moscow Patriarchate’s representative said.
He added that certain problems had surfaced in Western Ukraine at that time. ‘Nationalistic groups attempted to settle difficult relations between the Orthodox and Greek Catholics by force.’
‘Many Orthodox Christians have been saddened with the behaviour of Catholic missionaries, in particular when children baptized in the Orthodox Church or of the Orthodox background were raised and educated in the Catholic orphanages.’
The similar feelings of the Orthodox are provoked by the situations in which ‘the missionaries treat Orthodox culture and Russian culture as a whole with disdain, saying openly that they would have liked to change the religious and cultural code of the country.’
‘Certainly, the acute problems of the early 1990s are not so tense at present. However, we must exert our efforts so that the believers do not feel pain that may stand in the way of our cooperation,’ the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate said.