16 November 2010, 13:17
Russian Orthodox Church declines Catholics' claims for former Catholic church in Kaliningrad
Moscow, November 16, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate urges Catholics to give an unbiased opinion of transferring the former Catholic Church to the Russian Orthodox Church.
"First of all, I would like to assure everyone that the decision made by the regional Duma deputies (to transfer this and several other buildings to the Orthodox Church - IF) should not be in any way viewed as a hostile effort by the Kaliningrad Diocese," Dimitry Sizonenko, an acting secretary for inter-Christian relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion.
He denies the allegations of Archbishop Paolo Pezzi who earlier stated this draft law had been "insidiously lobbied".
According to Father Dimitry, some publications about the Russian Church laying claim on the building have been posted in Internet as far back as few months ago.
"It was no secret. Addressing the issue of the building transfer, the regional administration made it a condition that the philharmonic hall continued its work without charge. Thus, the final decision was made in favour of the bidder who met this quite reasonable requirement," Fr. Dimitry said.
He also denies any assumptions that the decision to transfer the former Catholic church to the Orthodox Church has shown disrespect for the lawful rights of the Catholic believers - the descendants of the postwar migrants who had arrived to Kaliningrad from across the Soviet Union.
"It should be remembered that the legal owners of Holy Family Church have left the city for good when it was included within the USSR. The postwar migrants, therefore, have no direct interest in this building," Fr. Dimitry stated.
He recalled that the building was neglected for many years, and "it is quite evident" that the Catholic descendants of those migrants were not the only ones who had done the renovation started in early 1970s by the head of the city council. The building was renovated to open the organ hall by a joint effort of all citizens and now it is their "common heritage".
According to Fr. Dimitry, "the way the Catholic Church treats this challenge today reveals many contradictions inherent to the Russian Catholic Church," and Catholics "unreasonably position themselves in this dispute as a religious minority." However, they make their statements on behalf of the Church which counts more than a billion believers globally.
Fr. Dimitry is convinced that it is possible to come up with a reasonable solution, because "the Russian Orthodox Church has always tried to decide such delicate matters in a way suitable for all."