Moscow Patriarch Makes Historic Visit to Katyn

Kirill Will Be in Poland Next Month

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By Father Mariusz Frukacz

KATYN, Russia, JULY 18, 2012 ( Katyn is a common grave for Russians and Poles, a place of grief, said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, after the liturgy celebrated last July 15 in the place where at the beginning of the second world conflict a tragic massacre was carried out.

“Nothing unites persons as sorrows do,” said the patriarch, adding that beginning today a new era can begin in the relations between the two nations.

The Katyn massacre took place in the spring of 1940 and its victims numbers over 21,000 Polish citizens, among whom were more than 10,000 military and police officers. It was carried out by the Soviet Union, following a secret resolution of the Political Office of the Communist Party of the Soviet Regime on March 5, 1940.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church went to Katyn as part of his pastoral journey to the Diocese of Smolensk. He also consecrated the new Orthodox church of the Resurrection of Christ.

Placed on one of the side altars of the new church will be an image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which Patriarch Kirill will receive as a gift from the Polish Episcopate during his visit to Poland, which will take place in August. In front of the altar, Catholic Masses will also be celebrated.

“It is time to recognize that this place is a terrible symbol of our common tragedy and, with this awareness, we shake hands, as between brothers and sisters who have gone through the sorrow and tragedy of Katyn,” said the patriarch.

“I believe that perhaps from here a new era will begin in the development of relations between Russia and Poland, from the awareness of a common tragedy and a shared sacrifice,” he added.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church will visit Poland from August 16-19. It is the first time in the history of Christianity that a head of the Russian Orthodox Church visits that country.

On August 17 at Warsaw, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and the president of the Polish Episcopal Conference, ArchbishopJozef Michalik, will sign a joint message to their respective peoples.

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