Paris Cardinal Praises Orthodox Church
By Inmaculada Álvarez
PARIS, NOV. 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop
of Paris says he found the Russian Orthodox
Church to be a "living and holy Church, strong
because of the testimony of its martyrs."
Cardinal André Vingt-Trois affirmed this in a
communiqué after his trip to Moscow last week.
The cardinal was returning the visit made by
Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II to Paris last October.
The Paris prelate and his entourage traveled to
Moscow "to honor the martyrs of the Orthodox
Church during the Soviet period and the action of
this Church in post-Communist society," a communiqué from the archdiocese said.
As well, he prayed together with the Catholic
community of Moscow and their archbishop, Paolo
Pezzi, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Cardinal Vingt-Trois said that his encounter with
Alexy II was "simple and fraternal" and that the
two of them discussed, among other things, "the
importance of the transmission of the faith to
the youth and the possibility of an exchange of
relics" to help the faithful learn about "the
treasures of sanctity in the distinct traditions."
The prelate also affirmed the "vitality of the
Russian Orthodox Church, seen for example in the
numerous reconstructions of churches and
monasteries, the number of baptisms of children
and adults, and priestly and monastic vocations."
Before departing for Moscow, the cardinal had
told L'Osservatore Romano that his trip, like
that of other cardinals who have previously gone,
helps to "increase relations with the Moscow
patriarchate and the ecumenical relations that
previously did not exist" in a climate "that has
gotten much better compared to 10 or 15 years ago."
"I think I can affirm the desire, the will of
Alexy II to enter into a more open relationship
with the Catholic Church," Cardinal Vingt-Trois
added. "In the progress toward the unity of
Christians, the question of trust is fundamental:
If there is not mutual trust, unity cannot progress."
Regarding his visit to Solovki, the prelate
explained that this ancient monastery "tragically
became the first gulag." There, Orthodox bishops,
priests and religious were martyred, and
Catholics, "who found themselves not only
imprisoned as well, but within the same persecution."
"It is very important," the cardinal said, "that
relations with the Russian Orthodox Church
recognize and manifest this fundamental dimension
of martyrdom, of recognizing the 'ecumenical
promise' of martyrdom -- [which is] the same,
suffered by Orthodox and Catholics."
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