“I go to Russia as collaborator of the Pope, who wants to build bridges to make grow the capacity to understand one another and to dialogue,” says Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The Vatican Secretary of State presented his forthcoming trip to Russia, scheduled for the month of August, with these words, reported Vatican Radio. While the dates of the trip are still unknown, there will be a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the program.
The Holy See and the Russian Federation established complete diplomatic relations in December 2009, at the level of Nunciature on one side and of Embassy on the other.
President Vladimir Putin was received by Pope Francis in the Vatican on June 10, 2015. He also came to visit John Paul II in the Vatican on June 5, 2000, and Pope Benedict XVI in 2003 and 2007.
On June 16, 2015 and on December 10, 2016 Pope Francis received in the Vatican Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Department of Foreign Ecclesiastical Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and one of Patriarch Cyril’s closest collaborators.
The last visit to Russia of a high level Vatican representative goes back to 1988, when the then Secretary of State, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, went to Moscow and took part in the celebration of the millennium celebration of the Baptism of Russia. He represented Pope John Paul II and was received by Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev.
“I will allow myself to be guided by the Spirit,” revealed the Cardinal, in an interview for the special broadcast “Francis, the Pope of Dialogue,” produced by Rai Vatican and dedicated to the Pope’s 19 international apostolic journeys.
“In the case of Russia, to build bridges consists in sharing the bilateral relations that already exist and that touch the activity of the Catholic Church and dialogue with the Orthodox Churches. However, it will be impossible not to address the context of international activities where Russia has an active presence, such as the subject of the Middle East and Syria or Ukraine, country that I went to last year,” explained the Vatican’s “Number 2.”
Cardinal Parolin’s trip to Russia follows a meeting between Pope Francis and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril in February 2016, in Cuba. It was an historic meeting that the Pope described as a “gift of God,” and a “day of grace.”
During the interview, Cardinal Parolin reflected also on the Holy See’s diplomatic activity, stressing the importance of dialogue. “Dialogue means encounter, knowledge, understanding. To put oneself in the other’s place, to understand his point of view. To find areas of coincidence and collaboration,” he said.
“The Pope seeks to open new avenues of fraternity. He is going to touch man’s heart” and “insists very much on personal conversion and on the meaning of mercy, which can also have a therapeutic function in relations between peoples and countries,” explained the Cardinal.
“To pull down walls of indifference,” the Pope hopes “to make new areas of encounter and collaboration grow, beginning from the last, from situations of material and spiritual poverties,” he continued.