Monday, April 27, 2009

What has Aleksandr Lukashenko told Benedict XVI?

Potentially interesting, and from my point of view hopeful, developments in Orthodox/Catholic ecumenical relations.  Russia Today is reporting online that the president of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, is (in the article reports) said "he was going to present the Pope with a number of questions from the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Kirill. Talking to the Pope, he also expressed hope that Benedict XVI would come to Belarus."  What makes the potential visit of the Pontiff to Belarus is part of the "canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church."  Evidently, according to the article, Lukashenko,"wants to play a role in organizing a historical meeting of the Pope and the Patriarch on Belarusian territory. That was what he proposed to Patriarch Kirill while in Moscow this spring."

"The idea to bring leaders of the two branches of Christianity together in Belarus is not a new one."  In fact, 
Aleksandr Lukashenko proposed it as early as in 2002. However, today it has taken on an interesting twist: Kirill already met Benedict XVI several times as a head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was also often criticized for his ecumenical policies, as he advocates for deeper cooperation with the Catholic Church. All this makes the possibility of a meeting between the leaders of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches greater than ever. And if Lukashenko's proposal is accepted, Belarus will play an important role as a conciliator and a peacemaker. In this sense, Lukashenko is doing a great job, improving Belarus' image on an international level and doing a favor for Kirill who, according to all indications, would like to meet the Pope.
While it is to early to say what, if anything, will come of Likashenko's plan, it is an interesting development.

You can read the rest of the article here: "What has Aleksandr Lukashenko told Benedict XVI?"

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

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