Russian Orthodox Church hopes ties with Catholics will grow stronger under new Pope
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17 February 2011
Russian Orthodox Church hopes ties with Catholics will grow stronger
under new Pope
Moscow, March 14, Interfax - A high-ranking representative of the
Russian Orthodox Church has welcomed statements earlier made by newly
elected Pope Francis announcing his readiness to seek closer relations
with the Orthodox Church.
"Pope Francis has declared his spiritual affection to the Orthodox
Church and his wish to have closer contacts with it more than once,"
head of the Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan
Hilarion of Volokolamsk, said at a press briefing in Moscow on Thursday.
Metropolitan Hilarion, who is reckoned to be second in command at the
Russian Orthodox Church, said that hopefully "relations [between the
Orthodox and Catholic Churches] as allies will develop further and will
grow stronger" under the new pontiff.
The conclave's support for Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio came as a
surprise to many people because this name was not on the list of
possible candidates, he said.
At the same time, the newly elected Pope is a "highly respected
clergyman", who lived in Argentina for most of his life, serving the
poor and the deprived, the metropolitan said.
The new Pope "himself has always led a very humble life and refused to
live in the Episcopal residence," he added.
"Obviously, it is not accidental that he is the first Pope to take the
name of Francis in honor of Francis of Assisi, who is certainly held in
high esteem by the Roman Catholic Church as the paragon of evangelical
humbleness and service to the poor," he said.
"Certainly, serving the poor and the deprived and protecting them are
among the priorities for the Christian Churches today, and the Russian
Orthodox Church attaches great importance to this mission. We think that
it will offer us a broad field for joint work with the Roman Catholic
Church," Metropolitan Hilarion said.