14 February 2011, 17:19
Russian Orthodox Church welcomes strengthening relations between Moscow, Vatican
Moscow, February 14, Interfax - The upcoming meeting of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Pope of Rome Benedict XVI will promote the dialog between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church, acting secretary of the External Church Relations Department Priest Dmitry Sizonenko told Interfax-Religion on Monday.
"Full-value diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the Holy See gave a fresh impetus to the constructive relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican," he said.
Earlier reports said that Medvedev would pay an official visit to Italy on February 16-17 and meet with Benedict XVI after that.
That would be a meeting of the chiefs of state, Father Dmitry said. The Church is separated from the state in Russia, "so official representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate are successfully discussing inter-church cooperation with partners in the Vatican," he said.
However, the Church has always been united "with the people, the society and played a special role in the Russian life as a spiritual and moral force linking millions of people in the home country and abroad," he said.
"Benedict XVI pins special hopes on cooperation with the Orthodox Church," he said.
"We simply must build up partnership in the face of terrorism and discrimination of Christians," he said.
The recent participation of the Russian government as a third party in the case of Italian resident Soile Lautsi, who challenged the ban on crucifixes at state schools, was an illustrative example of cooperation, he said.
Remarkable examples of good cooperation between the Churches can be seen in various European countries, Father Dmitry said.