By Theodore Shoebat
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said recently that the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church has reached a “new stage” thanks to Pope Francis’ meeting with Kirill in Cuba in February of 2016.
A meeting took place, from August 21-24 between Patriarch Kirill and Cardinal Parolini in the Monastery of St. Daniel in Moscow, making it the first time that a Vatican Secretary of State has travelled to Moscow in 18 years. In a statement made on August 23rd, Patriarch Kirill said that the meeting between he and Cardinal Parolin was possible due to “the development of relations between the Russian Federation and the Holy See.” He went on to say:
“But it is with still greater satisfaction that I see the development of relations between our Churches …This fact testifies that a new stage has indeed begun in our relations with events of great importance, which have been possible because in Havana we agreed our positions on many current issues”
Kirill added that “this communion of positions allows us to build plans and give them real content.”
Cardinal Parolin offered to Kirill the message of Pope Francis’ greeting to “my brother Kirill,” and further upheld Kirill’s affirmation that the meeting in Havana between the Pope and the Patriarch “has laid the foundation for a new stage in the relationship between our Churches, giving new impetus to these relations,” according to Vatican Radio.
A major point of this new impetus in Catholic-Orthodox relations was the Vatican sending the relics of St. Nicholas to Moscow early this summer. St. Nicholas is amongst the most honored and revered saints in all of the Orthodox world. The relics consists of several fragments of the ribs of St. Nicholas, and stayed in the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ in Moscow from May 22 to July 12, and they were then in St. Petersburg from July 13-28. This was the first time, in almost a thousand years, that the relics St. Nicholas, a 4th century saint who combated the heresy of Arianism, had been moved from their resting place in Bari, Italy. Cardinal Parolin, in a beautiful expression of Christ unity, said that the relics coming to Moscow was
“…exceptional event for the story of our Churches… the ecumenism of sanctity, it’s true, it exists. … The saints unite us because they are close to God and so it is they who help us to overcome the difficulties of past relations due to previous situations, and to always walk more rapidly toward fraternal embrace and Eucharistic communion”
The Vatican’s decision to move the relics of St. Nicholas was truly a work for Christian unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. For, when the relics arrived to Russia, over 2.3 million Orthodox Christians, from all over Russia, came to see these remnants of St. Nicholas’ bones. Many Russians, being so ardent about the relics of this saint, waited for 6-10 hours to see them.
St. Nicholas was a bishop who combated the evil heresy of Arianism, and in his arduous desire to war against the wiles of the devil, this holy combatant punched Arias in the face to express his anger against his deceptions. Today we have a multitude of heresies; the heresies of nationalism, of Islamism, Nazism, modernism and innumerable amount of others. Warring against these must unite both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
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