Important diplomatic visit in Russia by Catholic official


Expert: "He intends to facilitate good relations between Russia and the Holy See"

by Andrei Yashlavsky

Moskovskii Komsomolets, 21 August 2017


On Monday, the visit to Russia of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who occupies the post of State Secretary of the Holy See, began. In the run-up to the arrival of such a highly placed diplomat from the Vatican, suppositions about the agenda of this visit abounded in news media. They even said that there will be a discussion of the possibility of Roman Pope Francis coming to the Russian land. However, these rumors were refuted last week. Nevertheless, the cardinal's visit promises to be highly charged.


On the schedule of Cardinal Parolin's three-day stay in Russia appears a meeting with President Putin, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lavrov, Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill, and also with the head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Ilarion.


As the deputy general director of the Center of Political Technology, Aleksei Makarkin, commented earlier for Moskovskii Komsomolets regarding the up-coming arrival of the State Secretary of the Holy See, the Vatican and Russia have questions for discussion, and in the first place there is the situation in the Middle East. In the expert's opinion, it was because of the fact that the Vatican's position on the Middle East issue differs from that of the West that last year's meeting of the Roman Pope and Patriarch Kirill in Cuba became possible. "The Vatican acts as the patron of Near Eastern Catholics and positions itself as the defender of Near Eastern Christians, and the prospect of the creation in Syria of an Islamist regime absolutely does not suit it. Because there already is the experience of what happened to the Christian community in Iraq, where the activation of radicals led to a serious worsening of the position of Christians in comparison with the time of Saddam Hussein. The Vatican has an interest in seeing that the rights of Christians are preserved. And here there appeared the possibility for convergence. . . ."


"Cardinal Parolin intends to facilitate good relations between Russia and the Holy See, and at the same time to give an impulse to the advance of relations between the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See," the famous Vaticanist Andrea Gagliarducci commented for MK. "It should not be forgotten that after the meeting in Havana, these contacts multiplied. As a consequence of the Havana meeting, pieces of the relics of Saint Nicholas were transported from Bari to Russia for a month. Patriarch Kirill asked Pope Francis for the 'gift' of veneration in the motherland for a period of a month and the pope consented."


Speaking of the possibility of a visit by the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Andrea Gagliarducci noted: "The Roman pope has been invited, and the fact that the pope has never come to Russia is, among other things, a consequence of the reaction of the most orthodox part of Russian Orthodox. Now the times seem favorable."


As regards the invitations of the pontiff to Moscow, Andrea Gagliarducci recalls that the first such invitation was voiced by Gorbachev during his visit to the Vatican on 1 December 1989, and then also by Yeltsin in December 1991 and February 1998.


Andrea Gagliarducci said that Cardinal Parolin and Patriarch Kirill have already met in February 2016, during the meeting of the head of the RPTs and Pope Francis in Cuba. Cardinal Parolin has also met twice with President Putin, on 25 November 2013 and 10 June 2015 during two visits by the Kremlin head in the Vatican. In both instances, at the center of the conversations was the geopolitical situation, focused on the Middle East and Ukraine.  (tr. by PDS, posted 22 August 2017)

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