2006-07-03 13:46:00

Moscow summit shows the need for cooperation despite differences

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and head of the Catholic delegation to the Moscow World Religious Summit talked about the importance of cooperation between the Orthodox and Catholic churches to face the challenges before the contemporary world on the eve of the World Religious Summit in an interview with Interfax-Religion.

- The Holy See sent a rather representative delegation to the summit. Does this mean a thaw in Orthodox-Catholic relations?

- Of course, I would agree with you that this is a positive sign, which highlights the improvement of relations. But the main thing I would like to draw attention to is that there are many things that make our churches close to each other. The two churches share and recognize each other's sacraments, they share the Holy Tradition and have many common saints. Apparently, there are historical aspects that divide the two religions; however, efforts have been made to overcome these problems.

- Recently, a break in the stalemate in Orthodox-Catholic dialogue was rumored. As far as you are concerned, what are the most apparent changes?

- Firstly, both churches understand that we live in a secular society, and new challenges face us. This means that the reaction to these challenges should be a joint one. On the other hand, the two Churches feel that other religions are challenging them in the interreligious dialogue. Other religions are not something distant, their advocates live among us, in our society. That is why it is very important to highlight that the Orthodox and Catholic churches, which have much in common, should get together to offer a joint reaction to these challenges.

Today, especially in Europe, we witness the process of secularization that deprives society of its roots and values. We should unite our efforts to protect our roots, and not only to protect, but also develop them in order to have an opportunity to build our society on a stable foundation in the future.

- One of the main topics for discussion at the summit is the participation of world religions in overcoming terrorism and extremism, which often use religious slogans as smear. How do you think, could religious leaders offer ways resist the challenge?

- I think that spiritual leaders should clearly state today that the murders of innocent people in the name of the Lord are unacceptable. This is a false appeal to religion, rather than religion itself. Religions, primarily, respect humans and human lives. One needs to clearly state that God is the Name of life, the Name of the world, and it is impossible to justify violent actions against innocent people by religious slogans. All great religious traditions have a so-called 'golden rule': do not do things to others that you would like to avoid yourself. The rule is the cornerstone of all religions, and, according to it, such things as terrorism should be prevented.

- It is understood that representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet with their Hole See colleagues, if this is true, what issues will be discussed?

- Now, I do not know the schedule. Of course, we are hearted to profit from the possibility to meet with [head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations] Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad and to discuss the existing problems in out relations. Such an opportunity for exchanging information is always important. However, I would like to stress the essence of the Moscow meeting once again. Such a meeting is a kind of sign, which shows that we should cooperate despite the differences between our traditions and even the larger number of differences between our churches and other religions. This is an important sign for the world, because these differences, and their existence cannot be questioned, do not hinder cooperation and interaction.