Cardinal Zuppi meets Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill Cardinal Zuppi meets Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill 

Cardinal Zuppi meets Patriarch Kirill in Moscow

The Pope's envoy to Moscow is received by Patriarch Kirill, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church who reiterates appreciation for the efforts and the initiatives of the Vatican in seeking peace.

By Salvatore Cernuzio

The common work of the Churches "to serve the cause of peace and justice" was at the centre of the conversation between the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the Pope's envoy to Moscow to "ease the tensions" of the conflict in Ukraine.

Facing each other at a table in the Patriarchate headquarters on Thursday afternoon, in the presence of a translator, the Patriarch and the Cardinal discussed the importance of “all the forces of the world uniting to prevent a major armed conflict.”

The Patriarch's collaborators and Apostolic Nuncio, Giovanni D'Aniello, were also present.

Patriarch Kirill and Cardinal Zuppi
Patriarch Kirill and Cardinal Zuppi

These words are similar to those shared during the video call between Kirill and Pope Francis on 16 March 2022, less than a month after the first attack in Kyiv, during which the Pontiff reiterated the importance of "uniting" as pastors "in the effort to help peace" and highlighted that the Church does not use "the language of politics, but the language of Jesus".

According to Russian state agencies, Kirill greeted the cardinal, saying he was "happy" with his arrival in Moscow "accompanied by brothers I know well". "We appreciate that His Holiness sent you to Moscow. You are the head of one of the largest metropolises, dioceses in Italy and a famous archbishop, who is carrying out an important service for his people,' the Orthodox Patriarch said. 

Appreciation for the Holy See’s mission

This meeting on Thursday afternoon is the first between the Orthodox Patriarch and a papal representative since the beginning of the war, after the possibility faded for a follow-up meeting between the Pope and Kirill who met in in Cuba in 2016 and signed of a joint declaration.

On the sidelines of an event in Rome some months ago Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, said: “We are in a difficult moment, we must recognise this. But this does not mean that we are at ground zero or that there is a frost between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. Channels exist and attempts at dialogue exist”.

Group photo at the end of the meeting
Group photo at the end of the meeting

Metropolitan Antonij of Volokolamsk's visits to Rome

Also present at the meeting with Cardinal Zuppi was Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Antonij of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.

On 3 May, Metropolitan Antonij attended the General Audience in St Peter's Square and greeted the Pope, with whom he had a brief conversation. The day before, he had met with Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches to discuss "a wide range of issues of mutual interest". The Metropolitan returned to Italy in mid-June, where he met with Andrea Riccardi, the founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio.

Concelebration in the Cathedral of the Mother of God

After the meeting at the Patriarchate of Moscow and an encounter with Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children's Rights, Cardinal  Zuppi went to Moscow’s Cathedral of the Mother of God where he celebrated a solemn concelebration.

At its conclusion, he met the Catholic community, to whom he conveyed "the Holy Father's greetings, closeness and prayers", as the nuncio reported this morning.

On Friday, 30 June, the Cardinal will return to Rome in the early afternoon.

Cardinal Zuppi celebrates a liturgy in Moscow
Cardinal Zuppi celebrates a liturgy in Moscow

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29 June 2023, 21:56