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Dialogue is the key word

· The Cardinal Secretary of State in Russia ·

Ecumenical dialogue, cooperation among religious confessions, international conflicts and humanitarian crises, fundamentalist terrorism, the protection of human rights, environmental emergency: in several interviews with local press at the start his visit to the Russian Federation – 21-24 August – Cardinal Pietro Parolin outlined the main themes at the heart of his meetings with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and with the country’s top authorities.

The Secretary of State’s visit – following the historic meeting in Havana between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill on 12 February 2016 – signals a new step toward a “desired and sought-after communion”. The encounter in Cuba, the Cardinal said to the Tass agency, “not only strengthened contacts between representatives of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, which have become more frequent and substantive, but have also spurred the two Churches to consider in a new way the causes of discrepancies we have had in the past”. It has been a stimulus, he added, to focus attention on the “unity called for by the Gospel that we profess”. Thus, the Cardinal stated to the Ria Novosti agency, “a new path” has been opened, for “an even more sincere and intense dialogue”. The ecumenical journey, Cardinal Parolin emphasized to Tass, requires a “search for truth, love, patience, tenacity and determination”, but also requires firm roots. He recalled the recent 2-month pilgrimage of the relics of Saint Nicholas, which involved millions of faithful between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, demonstrating the “ecumenism of saints” which already “unites Christians”.

When asked about intricate international situations, the Secretary of State underscored that there would be various dossiers at the heart of the upcoming meetings, with particular attention to settings in which Russia is most directly involved, from the Middle East to the war in Ukraine and the unresolved situations in the southern Caucasus. All these scenarios will be examined in terms of the efforts necessary “to re-establish justice and peace, with respect for the dignity and inviolability of every human being”.

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Sept. 22, 2017

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