Pope Francis announced that preparations are underway for a meeting with the Russian Patriarch Kirill in Jerusalem, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Sunday, referring to Leonid Sevastyanov, the president of the World Federation of Russian Orthodox Old Believers, who is in correspondence with the head of the Catholic Church.
Recently – about a week ago – he wrote to me that a meeting was being prepared in Jerusalem. He said that he considers Patriarch Kirill as his brother and there is complete agreement between them
– the news agency quoted Sevastyanov.
Last year, the possibility of a second meeting between Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, was raised, but in the end it did not take place. Among the possible locations, they mentioned Jerusalem, then Nur-Sultan, the Kazakh capital, renamed Astana again, where the head of the Catholic Church participated in a meeting of leaders of world religions and traditional religions.
Kirill canceled his participation in the Kazakhstan forum. Metropolitan Antony (Sevryuk) of Volokolamsk, the head of the department of external church relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, previously told RIA Novosty that the possible meeting of the church leaders in Jerusalem was frozen by the Holy See. According to the metropolitan, the Vatican considered the possibility of an exchange of ideas to be held in the spring.
The Pope and the Patriarch met for the first time on February 12, 2016. The event was classified as of historical importance,
because since the great Christian schism in 1054, it was the first time that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and the most populous Orthodox denomination had negotiated with each other in person.
In his most recent interview published in the Saturday edition of the Argentine newspaper La Nación, the Pope indicated that he would be ready to mediate in the Russian-Ukrainian war and travel to the capitals of the opposing parties. On February 27, Sevastyanov told RIA Novosti that the head of the Catholic Church has developed a plan for a peaceful settlement of the situation in Ukraine, urges negotiations between the parties, and would be ready to offer the Vatican as a venue for them. An official of the Russian Old Believers told the same news agency on February 15 that Pope Francis wants to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin his plan for a peaceful settlement of the European confrontation between Russia and the West.
On Saturday, Patriarch Kirill addressed the leaders of the world’s Orthodox Churches and other religious denominations – including Pope Francis – as well as officials of international organizations – including UN Secretary-General António Guterres -, and in it he asked them to “make every possible effort” against the expulsion of the monks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, considered canonical by Moscow, from the Kiev Cave Monastery complex. The patriarch expressed his regret that with this measure, the Ukrainian state leadership “tramples in the most rude way” democratic norms, as well as human rights and freedoms, which he declares himself committed to respecting.
According to his argument, the ultimatum addressed to the monastery was legally unfounded, and the alleged irregularities that served as the reason for the eviction of the monks were established by a commission whose activities were not transparent and politically influenced. He warned: the forced closure of the monastery “will lead to the violation of the right to freedom of religion of millions of believers in Ukraine.” He complained, among other things, that the monks are under increasing pressure, that the Ukrainian security services searched their accommodation and launched a discrediting campaign against them in Ukraine.
Emphasizing the significance of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, the patriarch pointed out that it was the first monastery in Kievan Rus’ that existed since the 11th century, which is “the ancestor of the common spiritual and monastic tradition of the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian people”.
It is the cradle of our civilization and national culture. During its thousand-year history, the monastery suffered several times from riots against Christians, foreign conquests and even persecution. But only during the warring atheist power, in the twentieth century, were the monks of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra expelled from the monastery
He recalled that new generations of monks have revived the monastery, putting considerable effort and resources into its restoration, reviving the old spiritual traditions, “with minimal or no state assistance.” He emphasized that the Kiev Cave Monastery is a place of worship of all Orthodox importance, whose churches are visited by thousands of pilgrims every year, in which more than two hundred monks and novices live, and which is also the administrative center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The deadline for eviction of the men’s monastery was set on March 29. The monks stated that they are not willing to submit to the decision, MTI wrote.
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