16 July 2012, 10:16
Patriarch believes new era in Russian-Polish relations will begin with Katyn
Katyn, Smolensk region, July 16, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has called Katyn the scene of a common tragedy of Russia and Poland.
"Katyn is a common grave for Russians and Poles, a place of shared grief, of shared deep feelings. Nothing brings closer than common suffering, if it is understood as common," he said on Sunday after a liturgy in the Church of Resurrection that he dedicated at the international memorial to victims of political purges Katyn near Smolensk.
The Patriarch expressed confidence that time has come to see Katyn "as a horrible symbol of our common tragedy and upon realizing it to stretch out our arms to each other as brothers and sisters who have gone through the grief and tragedy of Katyn."
"I believe that probably from this place a new era will begin in relations between Russia and Poland, through the realization of the common tragedy and common sacrifices," he said.
Thousands of pilgrims joined the Patriarch during the Divine Liturgy conducted in the dedicated church. The ceremony was also attended by Governor of Smolensk region Alexey Ostrovsky and a Polish delegation which included Bishop of Siemiatycze George, the Polish military attache Col. Jaroslaw Navrotek and chaplains.
After the service the Patriarch visited the Russian and Polish parts of the memorial.
The first stone of the church was laid on April 7, 2010 by Vladimir Putin, the then Russian prime minister, and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
The church is complete with a set of building for social work with the local population, classes and a hall for meetings and conferences. There are also rooms for pilgrims, a refectory and auxiliary premises. The complex also includes a belfry and well.
The Patriarch has called Katyn the Smolensk Golgotha many times and in the days when he headed the Smolensk diocese he spoke of the need to build a church in the grounds of the memorial.
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