Monday, February 11, 2013

Moscow says change in Pope of Rome won't hurt relations

Due to the difference in conciliar structure between the Orthodox and Catholics, it's hard to say that a new pope won't mean a radically new relationship with the Orthodox Church. A new pope means a new church in a much more significant way than a new patriarch means a new church. The current Pope's reverse course from the innovations spurred by varied "interpretations" of Vatican II could be tossed out quite easily. It will be interesting to see if the new pontiff will be a continuation of this correction or a return to the rupture of pronounced novelty and false inclusiveness.

Moscow, February 11 (Interfax) - The Moscow Patriarchate hopes relations between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches will be developing as previously when a new pope is elected.

"There are no reasons to expect any radical changes in the Vatican's policy and attitude to the Orthodox Churches. Continuity has always been maintained in the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI has been doing his best to be a worthy successor to his predecessor," the Department for External Church Relations' secretary for Inter-Christian Relations Archpriest Dimitry Sizonenko told Interfax-Religion.

The positive trend in Orthodox-Christian relations will "continue by inertia."

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said earlier on Monday that Pope Benedict XVI had announced he was stepping down. He said in a statement for the press that he lacks strength to do his job.


  1. I entirely agree with your views expressed above and wrote almost the same thing on my blog. I heard that lightning struck the dome of St. Peter's tonight. Hmmmm...

  2. How many of the same Cardinals will be electing the new Pope? If they are largely the same group, they elected a conservative last time and could be expected to do so again.

    1. That is a very good point. To the extent that there have been any changes in the composition of the College of Cardinals it has grown even more conservative since Benedict's election. The last of the Vatican II cardinals are now gone and all of the electors were appointed either by John Paul II or Benedict XVI.

      It is extremely difficult to imagine a raving liberal being elected.

  3. What does this mean: "The positive trend in Orthodox-Christian relations will "continue by inertia."

    1. That is the current motion of the dialogue and it will continue unless obstructed by some outside force.

  4. Thanks. I can't see how inertia can be positive. Have to check the original Russian to see if there is a mistranslation.

    I was surprised by this article on Interfax:
    12 February 2013, 10:05
    Russian scholar praises Benedict XVI, slams John Paul II

    Moscow, February 12, Interfax - Outgoing Pope Benedict XVI "has been able to strengthen the Catholic Church and improve relations with" the Russian Orthodox Church, a Russian religious scholar said.

    "His decision to resign deserves respect. He has been a powerful leader, and would be able to continue his mission successfully if it weren't for his age," Roman Silantyev told Interfax-Religion.

    Benedict took charge of what was "a church that had been seriously weakend by his predecessor," Silantyev said.

    "John Paul II wanted to be liked by everyone, and as a result he did huge harm to the Catholics, turning millions of people away from his Church. His tenure saw mass-scale closures or conversions of Catholic Churches in Europe. Seminaries with histories spanning many centuries lost their students, and orphanages in Third World countries became the main source of new clergy," the scholar said.

    During Benedict's tenure, "the useless 'thrust toward the East' [alleged proselytism by Uniates], which was taking up huge resources, has come to an end, there has been an improvement in relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, which has proved to be the Vatican's main ally in asserting the Christian way of life in the European Union," Silantyev said.

    Benedict "hasn't had the idee fixe of coming to Moscow because he has repeatedly met with the incumbent Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia anyway," he said.

    "It appears to be most likely that an Italian cardinal will be elected to this post," Silantyev said.

    Never seen such a harsh assesment of Pope John Paul 2. Also I see signs of the Ukrainian Catholic Church expanding in eastern Ukraine so this scholar is wrong about that.

    1. I'd agree with much of their interpretation of a post-Vatican II Catholic Church under the care of JPII.

      Well, on the topic of the UGCC. There are a lot of things done to mollify Moscow. Much of the argument is one of ecclesiology and a differing understanding of territory. Also, the major-archbishop (one of those mollifications) aka Patriarch of the UGCC has asked quite often to have a sit-down with the Orthodox in order to calm the waters.