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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Secrets of the Vatican: why in Moscow is coming close ally of the Pope


In Russia, August 20-24, coming from the Vatican a very senior person – the Secretary of State of the Holy see cardinal Pietro Parolin. Despite the fact that in the media there were rumors that during the visit will be discussed the possibility of the arrival in our country of the Pope, the theme of the talks be affected, don’t seem to be. So what is the point of a Vatican guest?


photo: AP

The visit of the State Secretary of Vatican in Russia is called important in both political and religious sense. It is expected that cardinal Parolin will meet with the Russian President and the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Talking in addition to Latin and his native Italian into English, French and Spanish Pietro Parolin in the diplomatic service of the Holy see is more than thirty years, served in the Apostolic Nunciature (Vatican embassies) in Nigeria, Mexico and Venezuela. The Secretary of state, Pope Francis appointed him in 2013.

Catholic media indicate that the arrival of the second person in the Vatican hierarchy comes at a time when Russia and the West intensified relations over Ukraine and Syria, as well as in connection with a possible Moscow’s intervention in the American presidential election in 2016. Recall that the visit of cardinal Pietro parolin takes place eighteen months after the historic meeting in Havana between the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill and Pope Francis in February 2016.

The media reported that cardinal Parolin, in an interview with Corriere della Sera said that during his Moscow visit will be discussed a possible trip of Pope Francis to Russia. However, at the meeting in Moscow on Thursday, August 17, press conference, Secretary for inter-Christian relations of the Department for external Church relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate, hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), said that the theme of possible visit of the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Russia will not be discussed during the talks with cardinal Pietro parolin.

To date, no Pope has not been to Russia because of the difficult relations between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches. The current head of the Holy see has repeatedly expressed a desire to come to Moscow. But this is prevented by problems such as religious and political. In an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit in March, Pope Francis has declared that cannot go to Russia, because then he will have to visit Ukraine.

As stated by the news Agency Catholic News Agency American analyst and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, Robert Moynihan, despite fears that the willingness of the Holy see to the dialogue with Russia can cause a wave of criticism, “the Vatican, however, willing to take the risk”: “On the world stage at the moment, there is nothing more important and more significant than the relationship between Russia and the West.” Thus, according to the analyst, for the Vatican “to send the highest-ranking diplomat at the centre of Russia and the opportunity to speak with its highest authority is the dramatic and expressive gesture on the part of the Pope”.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera, cardinal Parolin said the Vatican is concerned about the numerous conflicts around the world, including the middle East, in Syria, in Ukraine: “Therefore, the need and urgency of the search for peace and ways to achieve it will definitely become one of the main themes [of the talks in Russia]”. Apparently, the Vatican wants to re-try on the role of international mediator – as it was when they began to recover relations between the United States and Cuba.

It is hardly possible the analogy with the Vatican’s mediation between Washington and Havana, said the Deputy Director General of the Center for political technologies, Alexei MAKARKIN: “As Russia and the West, the Holy see is unlikely Il be able to become a mediator. Here the situation is different. In the U.S., and Cuba a significant number of Catholics, while in Russia the Catholic community is small and does not show much activity. In 1990-e years the activity of Catholics in our country was higher, which caused irritation of the Russian Orthodox Church, which regarded it as a proselytizing on its canonical territory. In 2002 was created four Catholic dioceses without the approval of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this, the activity of the Vatican has dropped significantly.

If to speak about the mediation, it is necessary to understand the real possibilities of the Roman Catholic Church – they are not very large. The Church can perform the intermediary function, if both sides want to negotiate. In the Cuban-American case, was, on the one hand the Obama administration is willing to reconsider the traditional American approaches towards Cuba, hoping for liberalization of the regime. On the other hand, the Cuban authorities are tired of the long confrontation with America, and the collapse of the socialist Commonwealth played a role. That is, both sides were keen to negotiate. In Russia’s case the situation is different. With regard to the possible visit of Pope Francis in Russia, it is clear why about it do not speak. Because the protests in the most conservative part of the Orthodox will be much more significant than against the film “Matilda”.

For many Orthodox such a visit is impossible, this is the kind of character that makes them sharp rejection. Even if we imagine that the official Church structures will give consent to the visit, we see in relation to “Matilda” that the official Church leadership was not in favour of banning the film, and a considerable number of the faithful demands to ban it. Speaking about the visit of the Secretary of State, it is necessary to keep in mind that the Vatican and Russia have issues that could be discussed – first and foremost, this is the situation in the middle East. If we remember about the meeting between the Patriarch and the Pope, on it it was conducted including the middle East. I believe the meeting itself was made possible precisely because in the middle East the Vatican’s position differs from that of the West. The Vatican acts as the protector of middle Eastern Christians – and the prospect of a Syrian Islamist regime he was not satisfied…”.

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