CWN - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said that the Moscow patriarchate and the Vatican were close to agreement on the situation in Ukraine, after an August 22 meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State.
“We greatly appreciated that this time, we found a mutual understanding on the role that our churches must play concerning the reconciliation of the population in Ukraine,” the Russian patriarch said. He added that churches “cannot play any other role if not one of peacemaking.”
Patriarch Kirill’s statement is particularly significant because the Russian Orthodox Church has frequently blamed the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church for fomenting divisions in Ukraine. Tensions over the role of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, in a country that the Moscow patriarchate regards as its “canonical territory,” have troubled relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church for years, since the Catholic Church in Ukraine burst into vigorous activity after the fall of the Communist regime.
Cardinal Parolin spoke with Patriarch Kirill about the expansion of ecumenical ties between Rome and Moscow, which took a dramatic step forward when Pope Francis met with the Russian patriarch in Havana. This year, more than 2.3 million Russians venerated the relics of St. Nicholas, which were displayed in Moscow and St. Petersburg, on loan from the Catholic cathedral of Bari, Italy. Cardinal Parolin remarked that this massive display of faith illustrates the depth of belief that unites the Catholic and Orthodox faithful. “The ecumenism of holiness is real,” he said; “it exists.”
During their talk, held at the Danilovsky monastery, the cardinal and the patriarch also discussed the plight of Christians in the Middle East, agreeing that they should cooperate in providing support for those in need.