KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, APRIL 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Russia will mark Benedict XVI’s 81st birthday Wednesday by offering a chance to learn about the life of the German Pontiff, and to hear a televised greeting from him to the Russian people.
A state television channel will broadcast a documentary sponsored by the Germany-based organization Aid to the Church in Need. The documentary concludes with a message from the Holy Father to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, Orthodox Christians, and to all Russians. The Pope will appeal for dialogue among all Christians. Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, the Pontiff’s older brother, is one of those interviewed in the documentary.
Peter Humeniuk, the aid organization’s Russia expert, affirmed that both in Rome and in Moscow there is an awareness that the “film and the papal message are a beautiful symbol of the process of rapprochement between the two Churches.”
Humeniuk, who was in charge of the documentary, added, “During my journeys throughout Russia I come across many people who express a desire for objective information about the Pope and the Catholic Church. I hope that the film about Benedict XVI will help to meet this need.”
He said it is “an occasion of great joy and a historic event” to have the Holy Father personally address the Russian people.
All in all, Humeniuk contended, the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is progressing.