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Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk: the Patriarch and the Pope will discuss how Christians are to survive

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk: the Patriarch and the Pope will discuss how Christians are to survive
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23 December 2021 year 11:59

After the audience with Pope Francis of Rome in the Vatican, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, gave an exclusive interview to the RIA news agency, in which he revealed some details of preparations for the second meeting to take place in history between the Pontiff and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

-   After the conversation with Pope Francis, we expressed hope that the second meeting between the Pontiff and Patriarch Kirill will take place already in 2022 and will be prepared in the nearest months. Can it be held as soon as the first half of 2022, before Lent or Easter, in spring or in summer?

-  I believe it is more convenient to hold the meeting after Easter but the exact time is still to be negotiated. 

-   Is it planned to time the second meeting to some events, feasts or anniversaries?   

-   This is not planned for a while yet.

-   Pope Francis has recently stated that he is ready to come to Moscow. However, during your meeting with the Pontiff this choice of the place for the meeting with Patriarch Kirill was not discussed. Could you explain why? Does the Russian Orthodox Church not consider Moscow as the choice for a meeting between the Patriarch and the Pope?

-   We are considering now a possibility for a meeting not in Russia nor in Italy but in a third country.

-   Is a visit of Patriarch Kirill to the Vatican for the second meeting with Pope Francis excluded or not? 

-   Such a visit is not planned. 

-  Which platforms are being considered for the meeting? What venue, in your view, is the most preferable and probable for second meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch? 

-   We discussed specific platforms but until one of them is negotiated with all the interested parties, we will not indicate it.

-   Can the meeting take place again, for instance, in Havana? 

-   I do not think so. 

-   Patriarch Kirill expressed his readiness to visit the forum of heads of the world religious to take place in 2022 in Kazakhstan, and in May 2022, it is planned to hold an inter-confessional meeting under the UN aegis in Russia. Can the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church meet at one of these platforms? 

-   This location was not considered. 

-    What are the aims of the second meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis? And what topics would the sides like to discuss at it? 

-   The principal question: how Christians are to survive in a world that is growing ever more aggressive with regard to them in a great many regions. It is not on only in the Middle East, where in recent times Christians in some countries have been evicted en mass fr om their habitation places, and not only in some countries in Africa, where Christians are subjected to persecutions, but also in Europe, wh ere the cases of attacks on churches and defilement of shrines have become more frequent. I mentioned some of these cases in my lecture at the Free University in Bari.

-   Will the sides touch upon the subject of peace-making, mitigating the political tension between the West and Russia, advocating traditional Christian values in Europe and the world, world trends of departure from the traditional ideas of the two sexes and marriage, new biotechnologies, the application of artificial intelligence, QR-codes and fears of total control over citizens, migration flows and crises, eco-problems, the future of Christianity and humankind as a whole? What problems are the most acute? 

-   All these problems or some of them will be dealt with. The content side of the meetings is still to be worked out and we have already begun discussing it with Cardinal Koch. 

-   Is it possible to discuss theological topics for lifting up doctrinal contradictions between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church?

-  A discussion on theological and doctrinal topics is not planned. 

-   What are the hopes of the Russian Orthodox Church with regard to Pope Francis’ attitude to the Ukrainian problem? Is the Pontiff’s visit to Ukraine excluded in the light of preparations for the second meeting to be held in history with the Patriarch of Moscow? Is it expected that Pope Francis will make a statement in support for the Russian Church’s stand on the problem of schism in Ukraine and on the crisis in the Orthodox world community because of the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople? 

-   We should not draw the Pontiff of Rome into the solution of Orthodox problems and we will not do it. The situation in Ukraine cannot but cause our common concern, but whether it will be discussed at the meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch is still has to be determined. 

-   Is it assumed that the Russian Church will be supported in discussions on other problematic Christian places, such as Montenegro, Macedonia?  

-   I do not think that these topics will be discussed, although the two church leaders can feel like discussing any topics. Cardinal Koch and I are preparing a list of issues, but what course the conversation will take depends on the interlocutors themselves. 

-   Have all the points of the 2016 Joint Havana Declaration been carried into effect? What results has it produced and what else is still to be done? 

-   No, they are far from being accomplished. This declaration has given us tasks for many years ahead. And regardless of the success of the next meeting, that first meeting in itself became a significant event in the history of our bilateral relations.

-    Is it worthwhile to expect a new declaration to be issued after the second meeting, and principally about what? 

-    It is still to be discussed. 

-   Is it possible that leaders of other religions will take part in the second meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis? 

-   The meeting itself is planned to be bilateral. 

-   How do you assess on the whole the effectiveness of your recent meeting with Pope Francis? What issues touched upon in the conversation you believe to be the most important and pressing and why? 

-   The conversation was very meaningful; it lasted for an hour and it was held in a very good atmosphere. I managed to discuss with the Pontiff all the principal points on the bilateral relations agenda. I assess the meeting as very effective.

Interviewer Ms. Olga Lipich

DECR Communication Service/

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