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Will Pope’s Visit to Russia (for Religious Reconciliation) Be Fruitful?

Will Pope’s Visit to Russia (for Religious Reconciliation) Be Fruitful?

Posted May. 17, 2001 09:24,   


Can Roman Catholic Church reconcile with Greek Orthodox Church coping with their long history of antagonism? The Pope who visited an Islam temple for the first time in history, pronouncing `reconciliation with other religions,` is hastily making a plan to visit Ukraine and Russia, lands of Greek Orthodox Church. However, there seems not to be a smooth way to reach the reconciliation because of the Greek Orthodox Church’s chilly reaction.

Pope John Paul II is planning to visit Ukraine on 23th, June. He already got an invitation from Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. John Paul II has been hoping to visit Russia since he was elected as the Pope in 1978. Yet, it has failed each time because of the opposition of Greek Orthodox Church. Greek Orthodox Church is responding with their uncomfortable state of mind this time as well.

Russian Patriarch Alexiy II said on 13th, ``An obstacle between Greek Orthodox Church and Catholic has to be removed first.`` He blamed the recent expansion of Catholic`s influence in the old Soviet Union region by saying ``Western missionaries are buying the Russians’ souls.``

Greek Orthodox believers in Ukraine and Russia are having continuous demonstrations to stop the Pope’s visit. Especially in Ukraine, there exists a severe tension regarding the problem of returning former Catholic churches that now belong to the Orthodox Church.

The Pope was making an effort apologize about the errors made by Catholic toward the Orthodox Church. When the Pope visited Greece, an Orthodox country, for the fist time since two churches’ separation in 11th century, he officially offered a sincere apology for the capturing and plundering of Constantinople (Istanbul) committed by the Crusaders in 11th century. Nevertheless, Russian Orthodox Church showed a sneering attitude by saying ``We will see how this apology is fulfilled.``

John Paul II has been ``embracing other religion`` under the catchphrase of ``Solving all tensions and antagonisms among all religion.`` Visiting Syria, he appealed for reconciliation among Islam, Christianity, and Judaism and he also apologized for Catholic`s oppression upon the Protestant Church.

It seems hard for Russian Orthodox Church to continue to be in opposition against the Pope’s visit because the Pope`s gesture of reconciliation is getting international support and sympathy. Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of the Ukraine Catholic Church argued, ``Russian Orthodox Church’s behavior is being blamed by all countries of the world.``