Russian Bishops, Pope Discuss Orthodox Relations
VATICAN, Feb. 9, 01 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II met on Friday with
the bishops of Russia, who were making their ad limina visit.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Moscow led the delegation of Russian
bishops. He was accompanied by the three other bishops who serve as
apostolic administrators in the Russian Federation: Bishops Clemens Pickel of
Saratov, Joseph Werth of Novosibersk, and Jerzy Masur of Irkutsk, who are
responsible for central Russia, western Siberia, and eastern Siberia
respectively. (Archbishop Kondrusiewicz is charged with the pastoral care of
Catholics in European Russia.)
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, speaking for the Russian Catholic hierarchy,
asked "pardon for our errors," and issued an invitation for the Pontiff to visit
Russia. The primary focus of his remarks, however, was the effort to
promote better relations with the Russian Orthodox Church. Despite the
efforts of the Catholic hierarchy, the archbishop lamented, ecumenical
progress is hampered by "the continual, unjustified accusations, on the part
of the Russian Orthodox Church, for proselytism and penetration of their
'canonical territory.'" The Orthodox Church has consistently argued that
Catholics should not attempt to win converts in a land that is historically
affiliated with the Orthodox faith-- even if the practice of that faith has
In his own remarks to the Russian bishops, Pope John Paul also concentrated
on ecumenical affairs. He encouraged them to persevere in "patient" and
"respectful" dialogue with their Orthodox neighbors. "Try to contribute to
mutual understanding, and where possible to collaboration," he urged them.
"We cannot be discouraged by difficulties and even roadblocks on the
ecumenical path," he insisted. "We must continue to make every possible
effort to build full unity among the disciples of Christ."
The Holy Father also asked the Russian bishops to promote efforts at
evangelization, to counteract the "spiritual desolation and moral lassitude"
left by nearly a century of Communist rule. He suggested that the faith could
be spread by the translation of liturgical texts into the Russian language, the
recruitment of lay catechists, and the identification of Russian-born
candidates for priestly and religious life.
February 10, 2001
volume 12, no. 41
News from ROME