InoPressa. Ecumenism and geopolitics crossed the «neutral» cube

The first ever meeting between Patriarch of Moscow and the Pope is no accident took place in Cuba, with ties and with Catholicism, and with Moscow. This is another example of the expanded role of Francis in international diplomacy, media outlets, however, the time for the meeting with Kirill selected «very bad»: «It legitimises the steps of Putin in Syria.» «Moreover, the emphasis on the position in which Christianity was in the middle East, is a PR victory of the ROC». Italian La Repubblica wondered when might be the Pontiff’s visit to Moscow.

Why Cuba became a place for the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia Kirill? Journalists Foreign Policy Reid Standish and Benjamin Soloway notice: first, the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Cuba — «neutral strip» as it has ties with Catholicism, and with Moscow.

Secondly, Cuba is an example of the expanded role of Pope Francis in international diplomacy («Francis has made a key contribution to the U.S. rapprochement with Cuba, providing, in the Vatican area for the secret us-Cuban negotiations,» the authors explain). «So Cuba is a good place for another rapprochement, which has to do with geopolitics, not less than religious doctrines, and especially for the Middle East and Ukraine,» the article says.

Both Moscow and Rome have expressed concern about the trials Christians living in Iraq and Syria, remind the authors. «The question of whether a real genocide of Christians in the region, is the subject of controversy in political circles from Baghdad to Washington, but the views of the Catholic Church and the ROC are identical», — authors add.

However, the views on the course in the middle East, Moscow and Rome diverge. «The ROC publicly supports the military campaign of Russia in Syria,» the authors write. «Pope Francis calls for a peaceful settlement of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria,» they add.

«It is not clear how the restoration of relations between the churches will result in improving the lives of Syrian Christians, but the Catholic Church has expressed interest in an expanded cooperation», — notes the edition. According to Frank Sysyn, Director of the Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research (University of Alberta), Dad «chose a very unfortunate moment» to meet with Cyril: «It definitely legitimizes Putin’s steps in Syria.»

«Moreover, the emphasis on the position in which Christianity was in the middle East, is a PR victory of the Church, which for the sake of strengthening its position in Russia positions itself as a defender of persecuted Christians around the world,» say the authors.

According to the newspaper, the dialogue of Francis and Cyril also intended to minimize the impact of long-standing tensions between the ROC and the Catholic Church in Ukraine.

«After the protests on the Maidan of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics had hoped for more active support from the Vatican, says John Burgess (Pittsburgh theological Seminary). — Now there are fears that the Vatican is leaning in the direction of Moscow».

The authors conclude that to meet Francis and Cyril were mainly political reasons. «A thousand years after the break, the popes and the patriarchs still have a role to play on the world stage as political leaders,» summarize the authors.

«The Pope and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church met, after a step of historic importance» — in the title, reported The New York Times. «On Friday, Pope Francis became the first Pontiff met with Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church», — reminds the author Jim Yardley.

The journalist notes the symbolic significance of this meeting. «But it was also associated with geopolitics, rivalry between the heads of the Orthodox churches and, according to analysts, with the maneuvers of Russian President Vladimir Putin, maintains close ties to conservative Russian Church,» he writes.

«For Francis the meeting was a brilliant diplomatic move of Ecumenical nature, which has not been able to carry his predecessors, but which also put him under fire due to the fact that his joyful meeting with the Russian Patriarch will provide indirect support Putin, while he is waging war in Syria continues to interfere in the Affairs of Ukraine», — said in the article.

Analysts believe that Francis, who has made strengthening Ecumenical relations the main goal of his pontificate, was able to make the meeting due to the coincidence of various factors. Putin, apparently, came to the conclusion that this meeting can improve his reputation in the world and to thwart Western efforts to isolate Russia in connection with Ukrainian conflict.

Patriarch Kirill also trying to improve its image after the corruption scandals surrounding the Church property, said the author. He is also preparing for a pan-Orthodox Council, which will be held in June in Crete. «Meeting with Francis will only strengthen the position of Russian Patriarch,» reads the article. «He (Cyril. — Approx. ed.) sees here an opportunity to impress the world leader of Orthodoxy — said Aristotle Papanikolaou, one of the founders of the Center for the study of Orthodox Christianity (Fordham University, USA). — It is also a way to expand the global influence of Russia».

Hieromonk Giovanni Guaita, the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate, believes that the Pontiff’s visit to Moscow «will take time». Interview with Guitou publishes the Italian La Repubblica.

Monk is sure that the past in Havana a meeting of the Pope and the head of the ROC will have a huge impact on public opinion. The alarm in connection with the genocide of Christians, heard from the lips of such large figures, have a strong moral influence on many governments, said the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Answering the remark of a correspondent, that in Russia not all believers reacted positively to the meeting in Havana, the monk said, «In the Orthodox Church has always existed a small group with extreme views… There is another minority, advocating for a rapprochement. The majority of believers are indifferent. She’s not too educated in terms of theology and Church history. For this reason, it is extremely suggestible. (…) A huge weight will have a secular Russia representing the world of business, intellectuals, the business, which is encouraged by any steps towards the West at the current stage of the country’s isolation».

«At this stage the tension in the world of the Church shaking hands with the Pope, which is considered the highest representative of the world of morality, is of great importance for the country’s image,» says Guaita. Many in the West called the Pope’s visit to Moscow, the only evidence of a final peace between Catholics and Orthodox. How soon this could take place? — asked the correspondent. «First to be held another meeting in a different European city. Discusses, in particular, Vienna and Budapest, Belgrade or Bari. Not meeting at the airport, and a series of religious events, are clear and understandable to all believers. It should be followed by the visit of the Patriarch to the Vatican, this will be an important step, not causing too much controversy. And only then it will be possible, finally, to think about the Pope’s visit to Moscow», — said the father Guaita.

Translation InoPressa

InoPressa. Ecumenism and geopolitics crossed the «neutral» cube 15.02.2016

Февраль 15th, 2016 by
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