Monday, July 26, 2004

From Virtuosity
Analysis: Pope courts Russian Orthodoxy
By Uwe Siemon-Netto
Хорошо. that the pontiff will give back "Our Lady of Kazan" as an unconditional gesture of reconciliation is considered highly indicative of the current state of ecumenism, Vatican sources say. It is seen as further evidence that despite Alexei's intransigence, John Paul has given greater urgency to unity with Orthodoxy than with Western Protestantism.

The latter's "tendency to succumb to secular fads has become so irritating that our relations cooled considerably," a Catholic ecumenical officer in Germany told United Press International.

The Kazan icon hangs across from the pope's desk in his Vatican apartment. It had disappeared from Russia in 1918 shortly after the Bolshevik revolution and turned up in North America, where it was bought by a Catholic organization called Blue Army of Our Lady in Fatima.

The image was to be handed back when Russia converted, a development the Virgin Mary is said to have prophesied in 1917 during an apparition in Fatima, Portugal, which is now a Marian shrine. Catholic conservatives strongly object to the icon's return at this point, saying that Russia had not converted.

But the pontiff has made clear in recent years that reconciliation with the Eastern Church had top priority.

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