Catholics Ask for Role on Russian Council

Archbishop in Moscow Makes Plea to Putin

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

MOSCOW, OCT. 4, 2004 ( The head of the Catholic bishops’ conference appealed before President Vladimir Putin for enlargement of the Interreligious Council of Russia, a body that currently excludes Catholics and Protestants.

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, of Moscow’s Archdiocese of the Mother of God, made his proposal to a session of the Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religious Organizations of the Russian Federation, held in the Kremlin last Wednesday, and presided over by Putin.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said that for the dialogue to be fruitful it is necessary to invite representatives of other religions. The council, established in 1988, brings together Orthodox, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews.

According to AsiaNews, the Catholic prelate also addressed the question of the interpretation of the concept «traditional religions,» used in Russia to grant different rights to religions, stating that discrimination does not promote the consolidation of society.

«The Catholic Church in Russia may be small, but she has always contributed to uniting society,» the archbishop said, adding that Catholics «pray for victims of acts of terrorism and help» them.

Referring to the Catholic Church’s aspirations to participate in society and in interreligious dialogue, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz lamented that in some parts of the country the initiatives and activities undertaken by Catholics have been met with misunderstanding and hostility.

Finally, he thanked Putin for organizing the meeting, which had not been held over the past three years.

Terrorism, and Beslan in particular, headed the order of the day at the meeting. Putin said that terrorism cannot justify prejudices against members of other religions and nationalities. «In a multinational country, it is destructive,» he said.

Regarding the role that religious organizations can play in the consolidation of civil society, Putin said that «they are crucial in finding a solution to […] terrorism and extremisms in all their expressions.»

Putin added that the terrorists’ «claims are inspired by religious ignorance and are based on distorting cultural and spiritual traditions. They cynically cover their violent and cruel doings under religious slogans.»

Therefore, «it is extremely important today to continue developing cooperation between religious associations and the government in the pursuit of national goals,» the Russian president emphasized.

For his part, Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow addressed the topic of cooperation between religious groups, the government, and the wider society in the fight against terrorism.

«We need a genuine partnership among the three,» he said. «I am happy that this partnership is getting more active and substantial.»

Reminding his fellow members that church and state are separate, the patriarch stressed, however, that «no wall should come between them. We share many goals, such as maintaining interreligious dialogue and promoting peace, tolerance and mutual respect.»

In a press statement, the Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religious Organizations said that the fight against terrorism must be mindful of the Constitution and conform strictly to the law.

«In order to resist terrorism effectively,» the council said, «governments and civil society — religious organizations, public associations, political parties, and all citizens of our country — must unite their efforts.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation