2007-02-14 14:20:00

Vatican’s representative in Russia urges Catholics to respect Orthodox traditions

Moscow, February 14, Interfax - Representative of the Holy See in Russia, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, has pointed out that it is important for the Catholics to respect the Orthodox church tradition for a success of the ecumenical dialogue.

‘We will seek to show more gestures of sympathy and respect for the Russian Orthodox Church, putting distrust and prejudice away, as we work only for the sake of Jesus. We must try to understand with love, and understanding takes learning’, Archbishop Mennini writes in an address to the readers of Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism which have been republished in Russian.

The nuncio is certain that the book will become ‘a useful and necessary tool for a better understanding of the great tradition of the Orthodox Church and a respectful and loving approach to it’.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in his foreword to the book describes Directory as ‘a fruit of important ecumenical work reflecting the Catholic Church’s care for the right reading and implementation of its Councils’ resolutions’.

The Russian version of the Directory was republished in December 2006 with the support of the Russian nunciature. This official document was first issued by Pope Paul VI’s decree in two parts in 1967 and 1970.

The publication of Directory was prompted by the urgent need to interpret the actions of Vatican II, especially its Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegrutio), which defines the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church to Christians of other confessions.

The present re-edition of Directory addresses, among other things, the principle problem of Orthodox-Catholic relations in Russia and CIS countries, which are cases of proselytizing the Orthodox faithful.

The Catholic clergy are strongly recommended ‘to pay attention to the norms existing in Eastern Churches for their faithful and to avoid any, even seeming proselytism’ and ‘to show sincere respect for the liturgical tradition of other Churches and church communities, which are asked, in their turn, to show reciprocal respect for the Catholic tradition’.

For the implementation of the Vatican II resolutions the Roman Catholic clergy and laity are ‘to develop contacts and exchange between Catholic monasteries and religious communities and monasteries and communities of other Churches, for instance through exchange of information, spiritual counseling, possible material aid or cultural exchange’.

Directory also stresses the importance of providing the clergy and laity with regular information on the state of the ecumenical movement, ‘so that they could include the ecumenical aspect in preaching, catechism, prayer and Christian life in general’ and invite clergy of other Churches ‘to hold conversations devoted to their traditions and pastoral problems which may be common’.