The specialists in religious matters, say that the summit of the heads of the two churches in Cuba need first of all Moscow, according to Russian service of voice of America.
Pope Francis will meet with Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill in Cuba on February 12. The meeting of the heads of the two largest Christian churches in the world will happen for the first time in history. It is expected that the Pontiff and the Patriarch will discuss bilateral relations and international politics in a personal conversation at the international airport Jose Marti in Havana.
As reported in the Moscow Patriarchate, the communication of Francis and Cyril will conclude with the signing of the joint Declaration, however, joint prayer.
Meeting of Pope and Patriarch will happen during the tour of the head of the ROC on Latin America, representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate until the last moment denied the opportunity to meet. Between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches have not been removed many conflicts, in particular, both churches involved in the confrontation of believers in Ukraine.
Initiatives personal contact many times were made available by the Vatican, but Moscow responded to them in the past that such meetings need a more favorable climate in bilateral Church relations, as between Russia and the West in General.
Now the relationship between Russia and the West are at the lowest point since the end of the cold war, and yet, now Patriarch Kirill decided to go to a meeting with the head of the Catholics of the world. Why it happened, and what will it give to both churches? With these questions, the Russian service “voice of America” addressed to experts on religion and religious figures.
Sergey Chapnin: in step the Patriarch of two components — the Church and political
Religious scholar and former Executive editor of the “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate” Sergei Chapnin in an interview with “Voice of America” said that the meeting between the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church with the Pontiff there were no signs:
“On the one hand, of course, the first attempts to conduct such a meeting were made in the mid 90-ies. On the other hand, none of these attempts has not been seriously addressed, was not brought to the meeting, in fact, the last 10 years, at least for the Russian Orthodox Church, the agenda, including dialogue and the development of contacts with the Catholic Church was not particularly relevant: no major, large, official gestures in the Catholic Church, the Moscow Patriarchate did not.
And suddenly in the second half of 2015 began active negotiations that led to the meeting in February, to the preparation of the meeting in February”.
Sergey Chapnin notes that the desire of Patriarch Kirill to meet with Pope Francis appeared, probably influenced by political reasons. The theologian admits that it is a complex situation, which hit Russia in its confrontation with the West could bring the Patriarch himself, or those who are in secular leadership of the country could it to recommend, to the idea of such contact:
“It is obvious that the isolation in which today is Russia after the annexation of Crimea, quite painful not only for the Russian state, but also for the Church. Of course, from this point of view it is important that there was some new sign of qualitatively new relations with the Vatican, which is not only the Church but also the state.”
There is, in the words of the Russian religious writer, and the factor of internal Church policy: “Within the framework of the pan-Orthodox Council, scheduled for 19 June, and in this first big meeting of the Orthodox bishops of all Orthodox churches delegations of these churches are seated in the order of the so-called diptych.
This diptych is, in fact, the sequence of names in the Orthodox churches. And the ROC is in the list, fifth is a historical paradox that the largest to date, the Orthodox Church occupies a fifth place, but nevertheless, it is.”
Having established contact with the Pope, Patriarch of Moscow, according to Sergey Chapnin, abruptly will enhance the credibility of the ROC among the other Orthodox churches:
“For the Russian Church the main argument for the success of the Cathedral is not the fact of the meeting, and the fact of the adopted documents, and Patriarch Kirill participated actively in the papers personally edited many of the documents and obtained from the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew that all comments of the ROC were taken.
But in the framework of this pan-Orthodox Council and the preparatory process still need some good arguments. Here and in the international arena, in a sense, the only argument that has not yet used the ROC is the very fact of the meeting of the Bishop of Rome and the Bishop of Moscow as the Third Rome. We all know that the Bishop of the Second Rome — Constantinople quite regularly meets the Pope and the Patriarch meeting with the Pope was never in history.
It is clear that the interest in this meeting will be huge. And therefore, this argument is used after the final round of consultations on the preparation of pan-Orthodox Council — major final chord becomes a meeting between the Patriarch and the Pope”.
Sergey Chapnin still be inside the ROC Patriarch Kirill may be subjected to serious criticism: “There is a large group of fundamentalists who strongly oppose any contacts with the Catholics, especially the contacts at the official level.
Any friendly steps towards the Vatican, towards the Catholic Church these circles are regarded as evidence of unreliability upper hierarchy of the Church. I think that the meeting in Cuba is largely due to the fears of the Orthodox side, what if this meeting was somewhere in Europe, then there could be is some group of Orthodox fundamentalists who picketed somewhere in front of the entrance, or some other action”.
“Can’t remember to ever meeting at a high level, at such a high level Church leaders occurred in such places. This is very exotic, to put it mildly.
And there is some strange symbolism in this, that the airport is named after Jose Marti, writer-modernist, revolutionary, as it was called in Cuba, “the Apostle of the revolution”. Of course, this is in the context of a conservative turn in recent years, the ROC looks somehow a bit strange and unnatural,” says Sergei Chapnin.
Igor Kovalevskiy: the ROC after the meeting of the Patriarch with the Pope will become more famous in the world
The Secretary-General of the Conference of Catholic bishops of Russia, the Chancellor of the Curia of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow Igor Kovalevsky, in conversation with the correspondent of Russian service “voice of America” expressed the view that the Moscow Patriarchate is more interested in the upcoming meeting, rather than the Vatican:
“This meeting is very important Orthodox Church. I dare say that for the Orthodox Church it is more important than for the Church Catholic. After all, the Pope has already met with many primates of local Orthodox churches, and the meeting with Patriarch of Moscow is the first in history.
First of all, the world will know about the Russian Orthodoxy, that in Russia there are Christians of Orthodox faith that is the Moscow Patriarch. Don’t think about it know well all over the world: when Patriarch Kirill was in Poland, not all the poles knew very well that Russia’s Patriarch”.
However, according to Igor Kovalevsky, Russian Catholics are also very interested in the conversation of the heads of the two churches: “For Russian Catholics is very important, and I hope that it will contribute to improving the climate of inter-confessional relations in Russia, because we Catholics in Russia need a strong Christian Church.
We’re in the minority, we have always been here a religious minority, but a minority are moderately active. We must be realists and understand that Russia was not and will not become Catholic, it’s not our goal. Our goal is, first and foremost, a deepening of faith and the normal functioning of religious communities.
We currently do not have any special difficulties, connected with the peculiarity of our denomination. I’m talking about now, what will happen tomorrow nobody knows”.
The Secretary-General of the Conference of Catholic bishops of Russia is sure that the news about the meeting of the Pope of the Patriarch of Moscow and all believers must first experience joy:
“The fact of the meeting is unprecedented as this is the first meeting of the Pope with Patriarch of Moscow in General, since the establishment of the Patriarchate in Russia. It’s not good, but the format and everything else is details”.