Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Vatican press office yesterday published the program of Card. Pietro Parolin’s appointments on his upcoming trip to Russia. The, Secretary of State, will be in Moscow from August 21st to August 24th. In addition to meetings with Catholic communities, he will see Patriarch Kirill and metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow. From a political point of view, the cardinal will have talks with Serghei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, and with Vladimir Putin. Here is the official text of the statement:
Visit of Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, to the Russian Federation
(21-24 August 2017)
On 21-24 August 2017, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, will visit the Russian Federation at the invitation of the authorities of the country. He will be accompanied by Rev. Mons. Visvaldas Kulbokas, Counselor of Nunciature, Officer of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.
The purpose of the visit is to meet the highest civilian authorities and top leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. It will also be an opportunity to show the Pope's spiritual closeness to the local Catholic community.
In the various talks, in addition to issues relating to issues of bilateral interest, there are those relating to the international situation and, in particular, the search for peaceful solutions to ongoing conflicts, with particular attention to humanitarian aspects.
The program on Monday 21st August begins with a meeting with the Catholic Bishops of the country and in the evening Holy Mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow followed by a convivial moment with the representatives of the Clergy and the laity. On the same day he is scheduled to meet with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow.
Tuesday, 22 August, will be dedicated to a working session with Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov and, in the afternoon, a visit to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.
On Wednesday, August 23, the Secretary of State will travel to Sochi for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
On the morning of Thursday, August 24, Cardinal Parolin will return to Rome
The theme is a meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, not in Moscow, but in some holy place of the Christian East, or in Bari. An international conference on the future of Ukraine and Crimea. Commitment to Christians and Peace in the Middle East.
Card. Pietro Parolin’s trip to Moscow is an opportunity to rebuild understanding between Catholics and Orthodox, marked by the wounds of the atheist past and the Ukrainian conflict. Russian Latin rite faithful seem to have a mediatory role. Yesterday there was the meeting between Card. Parolin and Metropolitan Hilarion. Today, the much anticipated meetings with Kirill and Foreign Minister Serghei Lavrov.
The importance of the collaboration of the two Churches to support Christians in the Middle East reiterated. The pilgrimage of St. Nicholas's relics, "a small brick in building a new relationship". Hilarion: There was no talk of a meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill.
The Russian President met the Vatican Secretary of State in his dacha. Collaboration on international issues, especially Syria, Ukraine, North Africa and Venezuela, underlined. The Russian cultural heritage exhibition in Moscow and in the Vatican. The pilgrimage of St. Nicholas's relics is appreciated. Parolin: Vatican diplomacy moves on many levels. There is some doubt about the pre-electoral use of the visit.
The saint’s sacred remains have never left Italy since 1087. In February 2016, Pope Francis and Russian Patriarch Kirill agreed to move a relic to Russia for a certain period of time. At 6 pm yesterday, all the churches of the capital ran their bells in jubilation. A grand procession accompanied the sacred relic to Moscow’s Christ the Saviour where Patriarch Kirill led a solemn liturgical celebration.