2005-10-26 19:40:00

Vatican believes diplomatic contacts with Russia need to be raised to the level of embassies

Moscow, October 26, Interfax - The Vatican believes the level of its diplomatic contacts with Russia is not high enough and favours the elevation of the representations of both states to the status of embassies.

'It seems evident to me that the present status of mutual representations in Moscow and the Vatican does not correspond either to the importance that the Holy See gives to relations with the Russian Federation or the position that the Holy See occupy in the world', said the Vatican's Secretary for State Relations, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, who begins his visit to Moscow on Wednesday.

In an interview to Svet Yevangelia, a Russian Catholic newspaper, he noted that today the Vatican has over 174 apostolic nunciatures in various countries of the world and over 20 representations at international organizations. At the same time, the Holy See has its embassies in all countries which have diplomatic relations with the Vatican, except for Russia and the Palestinian National Autonomy, where this state has only representations.

'I believe both sides (Russia and the Holy See - IF) are working to move to full-fledged diplomatic relations', he added.

The archbishop also expressed the conviction that 'Russian Catholics, just as Catholics in other nations, can certainly make their own contribution to the ethical, religious and social development of their country'.

'That is why I sincerely wish that they may soon become members of the Public Chamber so that they may fulfil their mission and promote the growth of Russian society of which they are an integral part', the archbishop said.

He also expressed hope that the Catholics 'will be able to participate in the Interreligious Council in Russia in order to develop both ecumenical dialogue between Christians and interreligious dialogue with people of other faiths, first of all for peaceful co-existence among all citizens in this vast land'.