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Ecumenism at the service of peace

· The experiences of reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox in some Slavic countries ·

In this year's Octave the following suggestion is offered to us from the prophet Micah: "The You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God" (6:8).  We are all in agreement on the fact that we must apply ourselves for the sake of justice and we are striving, too, to show our goodness.  Yet, to live with humility  seems to me an aspect indeed more difficult to realize.  Before God we struggle still, at least exteriorly, to give a pretty image of ourselves; but it is not possible "to walk humbly before our God" without living that humility in front of our neighbour, too, who is an image of God.  Without a doubt, this attitude of humility is also necessary in the relations between the Christians of different confessions who desire to overcome the present divisions and to grow in greater unity, hoping that full unity — willed and called for by Christ — can be reestablished.  In the last year, we were able to watch with appreciation the steps forward in this regard, and not only on the level of personal relationships, which often remain hidden in the background, but even in the public platform.  A significant document was signed in August at Warsaw by the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, during his visit to Poland, and the Latin Archbishop of Przemyśl, Józef Michalik, President of the Polish Episcopal Conference.  The text, among other things, exhorts the two peoples to reconciliation.  The document, which was in preparation for three years by means of numerous meetings and demanding dialogue, has already had and will still have reverberations in the two countries.  In Poland, it was read in all Catholic Churches, while in Russia it was received favourably by the Holy Synod, and Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, declared in an interview at the end of last year that the signing of this document was the most important event of 2012 for the Russian Orthodox Church.

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