Putin Has Disappointed Me, Says Moscow Archbishop

Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz Received Pallium from Pope

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ROME, JULY 2, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Russian President Vladimir Putin’s silence in the face of the Pope’s plea over an expelled bishop is disappointing, says the Catholic archbishop in Moscow.

Nevertheless, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz remains optimistic that John Paul II will still be able to visit Russia.

The archbishop made his comments in Rome. The head of the Mother of God Archdiocese of Moscow was among the 28 prelates Saturday who received the pallium, a band of white wool decorated with black crosses that symbolizes their bond with the Holy See.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said that receiving the pallium from the Holy Father is a gesture that pleases the whole «Catholic Church in Russia, with its long and painful history, including the Golgotha of the 20th century.»

Despite the Church’s challenges in Russia, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said there is no lack of positive signs, the result of the sacrifice of the martyrs and of so many faithful witnesses of the Gospel.

He referred to the case of Polish Bishop Jerzy Mazur, head of the Diocese of Irkutsk in Siberia, whose visa was canceled in April, barring him from returning to his community. Weeks before, the same thing happened to Italian Father Stefano Caprio, a missionary. Both measures were taken following the institution of four Catholic dioceses in Russia, and the ensuing protest of the head of the Orthodox Church.

«President Putin’s lack of response to the Holy Father’s letter, in which he requested an intervention in favor of Mazur so that he could return to his diocese, has greatly disappointed me, also as a Russian citizen,» said Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, referring to a letter signed May 8 by the Pope.

«I hope that my president, for whom I pray, will realize that the Pontiff is also a head of state,» and, as such, has the right at least to an explanation, the archbishop said. «I hope a solution will be found shortly,» he added.

During his ministry in the Moscow diocese, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said he has been able to meet with «some Orthodox bishops and priests who have expressed keen concern over this expulsion, as it is a conflict between the two Churches that represent the Christian world.»

Moreover, even the state authorities have shown concern for the «solution of this case,» the metropolitan of Moscow explained.

This is also the case «on the Orthodox side,» he said, «because there is increasing awareness of the need to resolve jointly the questions that divide us, ranging from the accusations of proselytism leveled against us to interpretations of a theological kind.»

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz’s optimism is based, in part, on the papal visits to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria.

The representatives of the Orthodox Churches in both countries have described John Paul II as a «symbol of our times,» he noted. Moreover, the Pope considers the Orthodox as a «sister Church,» he added, explaining his great hope that «the Pope will soon be able to go to Russia.»

Until then, «every Sunday the rosary is prayed in all our parishes,» the archbishop concluded.

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