A month or two ago it was reported that the Pope wanted to advance into Russia. Will it have the same fate as all the others who have sought to advance in that direction?
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has agreed to a meeting with John Paul II on the condition that the two churches first settle some outstanding disputes. Patriarch Alexei II said, ‘We do not rule out such a possibility, but we believe the meeting should be well prepared and the obstacles removed’.
The Pope has for a long time expressed his wish to visit Moscow in an effort to promote reconciliation between the churches. But the Russian Orthodox Church has refused. Orthodox officials say that long-standing theological divisions have been worsened by Catholic missionary activity following the fall of communism in predominantly Orthodox Russia. A further obstacle is the conflict over church property in Western Ukraine, where the Communists gave Ukrainian Catholic holdings to the Orthodox.
It would appear that we in the UK are not alone in our long-standing conflict with the Vatican dictatorship. It would appear that the Russian Church is still red with anger about their episodes with it, yet are well read on their dealings with the Whore of Babylon, and ready and watching for the next round of attacks and trickery and plan not to be out-manoeuvred by the Pope.
In reports this week The ‘Irish Catholic’ paper, highlights that before the Pope has arrived disputes have already arisen.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is subject to the Moscow Patriarchate had sent a letter asking the Pope to postpone any visit. The letter allegedly threatened that if the Pope met with either of the Churches ‘it would mean the practical end of relations between our Churches.’
A spokesman for the Holy See answered with a curt, ‘No message has been received. The Holy Father’s visit will go as planned next June.’ The statement also added that the Pope would, ‘Meet with Ukrainian Catholics and hope to contribute to a serene ecumenical dialogue’. The Pope’s mission is clearly an attempt to gain and build his flock.
It is interesting to note those elevated to Cardinal recently, under the guise of ‘the Christian men and women who were willing to bear witness to their faith amid sufferings’. Much talk has been made of those in the West but the Pope has subtly tried to gain entry and support in the former communist countries by the elevating several to cardinal in Russia and the Ukraine.
The Pope’s nomination of two Ukrainian cardinals is part of his new ploy. This has softened thoughts of his trip to the Ukraine. He has apparently tired of waiting and has achieved early access by gaining an invitation to minister to his suffering Ukrainian flock.
While Patriarch Alexis II has snubbed the Vatican’s overtures for a visit and has made it clear that the time is not ripe for a papal trip to Russia, the 80-year old Pope has decided on a more vigorous strategy rather than the gentle and patient prodding.
David Quinn of the ‘Irish Catholic’ Paper said:
‘Archbishop Van Thuan is a long shot, but the sight of an oriental pope waving to the world from the balcony of St Peter’s upon his election would, I think, be electrifying. Also, if the Church wants to finally begin making serious inroads into Asia this might be the way to do it’.
So much for the Divine work of God almighty! This is nothing short of secular strategy and politics.
Why leaders feel there is a need to have dialogue with the Pope is a mystery.