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Le Pape François affirme ne pas avoir l'intention de s'ingérer dans la vie de l'Orthodoxie Russe


Pope Francis assures Russian Orthodox Church that he has 'no desire whatsoever' to interfere in the affairs of their church.

Pope Francis has assured leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church that he has “no desire whatsoever” to interfere in the affairs of their church.

At a high-level meeting at the Vatican between the Pope and a delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church, Pope Francis emphasised the common ground between the Churches, while telling Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk that the Vatican has no desire to interfere in internal Russian Orthodoxy.  “I want to confirm most of all in front of you dear brother and before you all that the Catholic Church will never allow an attitude of division to be born on its own. We will never allow it. I do not want it. In Moscow, in Russia, there is only one Patriarchate, yours. We will not have another.”

He continued: “The Catholic Church, the Catholic Churches, should not interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, not even in political matters. This is my position and the position of the Holy See today. Those who meddle do not obey the Holy See.”

The Russian delegation was headed by Metropolitan Hilarion, who is head of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, and who who has been one of the leading opponents of closer ties with the Catholic Church. However, in greeting the Pope, Hilarion underlined the “common witness of the Churches on the universal values "of peace, love, mercy and forgiveness”, before emphasising:  “In the world, which is going through a period of dramatic divisions, the pacifying and humanitarian role of the Churches can not be underestimated."

The exchange between Pope Francis and the Russian Church leaders contained two important allusions crucial to relations between the two Churches as they forward.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has been seen to lend its support to a highly controversial move by the Ukrainian Government and the Orthodox Church in Ukraine to ask the nominal head of the Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, to grant autocephalous – or self-governing – status to the Ukraine Orthodox Church. The move has been bitterly opposed in Moscow.

Earlier this month Metropolitan Hilarion told state-run NTV that the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics, Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk, has “repeatedly stated his support of the project for a unified Local Orthodox Church of Ukraine while saying that the unity of this Church should be built on the successor of St Peter, that is, the Pope of Rome.” Pope Francis’ phrasing, “The Catholic Church, the Catholic Churches...” will almost certainly be seen as a tacit endorsement of the Moscow position in this toxic dispute within Orthodoxy.

A little more opaquely, the phrase “not even in political matters” is likely to be read as a rejection of the allegations that are by now customary in discussion in the West that the Orthodox Church is too closely tied to President Vladimir Putin.

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