DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     December 15, 1999     vol. 10, no. 238

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Cardinal Sodano Welcomed by Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II

        MOSCOW, DEC 13 (ZENIT).- Yesterday, Moscow was the scene of great joy on the occasion of the re-consecration of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, which was also raised to the rank of Cathedral. The temple had been confiscated by Soviet authorities in 1935 and turned into a factory. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State and John Paul II's special envoy to the ceremony, concelebrated Mass with Cardinals Franciszek Macharski of Krakow, Georg Sterzinski of Berlin, and Adam Maida of Detroit, as well as Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Apostolic Administrator of European Russia, and other bishops and priests.

        This Church was returned to Catholics by the Russian government four years ago. Restoration work was done by firms from various countries, including Poland, the United States, Bielorussia, and the Ukraine, while sculptural compositions were made by a Moscow artist. The interior decorations are still incomplete, but are hoped to be finished this spring. Masses will be celebrated both in Polish and in Russian at the new Cathedral.

        At the end of the homily, Cardinal Sodano said that on the door of the new Cathedral a sign should be inscribed, akin to what he saw in a small Italian mountain chapel: "One enters here to love God, and leaves here to love one's brothers."

        An unexpectedly large group of faithful gathered in the church, beginning in the early morning, transforming the event into the most impressive celebration in the long history of Catholics' presence in Russia. Among the more than 100 concelebrants were the first three Russian priests ordained in St. Petersburg this year.

        With the reopening of this church, there are now two active Catholic churches in Moscow. The second, St. Louis of the French, built in 1827, was not closed down but controlled at close range by the Soviet regime. It is a small church in which as many has ten Sunday Masses may be celebrated in different languages, Fr. Le Leannec explained. There is a third Catholic church in the Russian capital, dedicated to SS Peter and Paul, but it is in a terrible state, as it was also confiscated by the Soviet regime in 1938. Indeed, the faithful are askng that another parish be opened, in a small place, because otherwise it is very difficult for Catholics who are spread around this metropolis, to find a place of worship.

        This morning Cardinal Sodano was received by Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and head of the Russian Orthodox Church; they spoke about the joint celebrations between Catholics and Orthodox during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. ZE99121310

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 15, 1999       volume 10, no. 238


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