Exactly 200 years after the French and 400 years after the Polish armies occupied Moscow and were subsequently chased from Russian territory, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited Poland. There he met with his flock and, more importantly, with the president of the Polish Roman Catholic Bishops conference Archbishop Józef Michalik of Przemyśl. In Warsaw they signed a common “pastoral” declaration calling for “dialogue, restoration of mutual trust and for rapprochement between the Russian and Polish nations in face of common Christian responsibility and the need to solve the same problems today.” Continue reading
The library of Communicantes contains a nice collection of books, many of which date back to the Cold War era. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, they became obsolete and started a new life as historical source. Recently, however, I came across an interesting 1983 publication by the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate: The Lvov Church Council. Although it deals with a church council in 1946, the book hadn’t lost much of its relevance. Back then, seventy-odd years ago, it was decided to unite the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which was loyal to the Pope of Rome since 1596, with the Russian Orthodox Church. In Greek Catholic circles this church meeting was dubbed ‘pseudo-council’, because it was not a spontaneous popular initiative at all, but a well-orchestrated KGB-secret service operation, instigated by the communist leadership in Moscow. Continue reading
The conference ‘Churches in Ukraine’ was held on 26 November 2011 at the picturesque Hernen Castle. Four key note speakers had been invited. Dr. Heleen Zorgdrager, who is visiting professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv since 2005, and Ukrainian nationals Father Roman Fihas MA, drs. Julia Hoppenbrouwers-Nagornyak and Mariana Kavinska MA demonstrated their intimate knowledge of Church in Ukraine. Furthermore, Professor Nico Schreurs, president of the Foundation Communicantes, spoke about the history and mission of the foundation. Editor-in-chief Father Dolf Langerhuizen introduced the audience to the review Pokrof. The conference ‘Churches in Ukraine’ was organised by the Foundation Communicantes and the review Pokrof, and was hosted by the Bredius Foundation. It is the aim of the Bredius Foundation to enhance knowledge of Byzantine culture among scholars and the general public. Continue reading
Last Saturday 24 September, President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia announced that he will be stepping down from office next year to allow his Prime Minister Vladimir Putin a third presidential term. Russia watchers see in this Putin’s desire to prevent substantial reform, and, for that reason, predict the end of the Putin era as well. On the short-term, the Putin-Medvedev shuffle will also affect ecumenical relations, at least, this would not come as a surprise. Continue reading
In March 2011, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, visited Moscow. There, he met Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. The visit was heralded in the media as a breakthrough in Russian Orthodox-Roman Catholic relations, but it remains to be seen, as to whether we will witness a new ecumenical era soon. With Pope biographer George Weigel, for example, one can ask if this really was a defining moment. Recently, Weigel harshly criticised the Russian Orthodox Church, and, to be honest, rightly so. It is obvious that the “the Russian Orthodox leadership is functioning as an arm of Russian state power” (Weigel) and, as a matter of fact, quite willingly (see a December 2010 Wikileak with Metropolitan Hilarion).
This post, however, does not aim at the Russian Orthodox Church as such. It rather wants to look at what might lay behind this desire for cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church on various moral and ethical issues, which was proposed by Metropolitan Hilarion, last March. Continue reading