Christmas Warmth Between Orthodox and Catholics

Present of St. Nick Brings Churches in Russia Together

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KEMEROVO, Russia, DEC. 22, 2008 ( A Catholic bishop in Russia presented a relic of St. Nicholas to a Russian Orthodox bishop during a solemn liturgy in celebration of the saint, as an expression of brotherhood between the Churches.

The Russian feast of St. Nicholas on Dec. 19 was celebrated with special enthusiasm in Kemerovo, as a relic of the saint was presented by Catholic Bishop Josef Werth of the Diocese of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Novosibirsk to Russian Orthodox Bishop Aristarch of Kemerovo and Novokuznetsk, reported Aid to the Church in Need.

The Orthodox cathedral of St. Nicholas overflowed with people in attendance at the solemn liturgy, including the apostolic nuncio in the Russian Federation, Archbishop Antonio Mennini.

In an address at the liturgy, Bishop Aristarch spoke of the veneration of many saints that the two Churches share, and called the relic a «a true sign of love and esteem between the Russian Orthodox and the Catholic Church.»

Bishop Werth, who recognized Bishop Aristarch as his «brother in the episcopate,» affirmed that «Orthodox and Catholic bishops, priests and faithful are meeting with one another and praying to the same Lord. I am certain that in future the same kind of cordial relationships will also develop in other cities and towns of Siberia.»

Benedict XVI personally requested that the relic be given to the Orthodox bishop and faithful of Kemerovo, Archbishop Mennini explained, as a «gesture of fraternal love.» He underlined the importance of using every opportunity to further dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

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