Pope Francis-Kirill: La Civiltà Cattolica, the “Joint Declaration” is all about “the hands that used the ink”

The Joint Declaration signed at Havana by Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill “is just a step, which is not about the words written and signed, it is all about the hands that used the ink and that shook each other. So, the meeting itself is the milestone that historically stands out”. This is how “La Civiltà Cattolica”, in a leading article in the new issue, describes the “first meeting between the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow”. The Joint Declaration – the full text of which is in the magazine – shows that “the meeting has been a gamble that may involve risks”. “The internecine issues between the two Churches – the article states – have not been solved: the Russian accusations of proselytism, the problem of the so-called ‘uniatism’, the fight between Russia and Ukraine should not be underestimated, even in their consequences, which are related to the local Churches”. Moreover, “the tragedy of the Middle Eastern area has even been suggested as the reason for the Cuban meeting and seemed to be central to the Declaration”, and “we know very well that Kremlin plays a leading role in that area”. And then, “the Declaration acknowledges the tones that Moscow uses to emphasise the decay of the West, its economic decline and its moral decline. For some, they are too tied up in a Russian political narrative. At any rate, they are pastoral issues, not political or sociological issues, as the Pope said to the press as he flew from Havana to Mexico City”. But the milestone is “the meeting itself”, which has been wanted with “a determination that went beyond caution”. “What should be carefully reflected upon is the fact that Francis lays no conditions whatsoever and is prepared to do anything to set the meeting. There are and there will be hostilities and misunderstandings, but they will eventually drop if the walk goes on. This is what the policy of mercy (even the ecclesiastic one) is all about. Therefore – he concludes –, Francis’ hug was an unconditional hug that welcomed the Russian Orthodox Church as it is now, loving it as a sister, with its complex, difficult past and with its bright tradition”.

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