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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Russian Church leader hopes cardinal tackles local issues during visit

A Russian Church leader has urged the Vatican’s secretary of state to use his upcoming Moscow visit to tackle “practical difficulties” facing local Catholics, rather than just discussing international issues.

“The Catholic community still has serious problems here, not least in Moscow itself; we need help to improve our situation,” said Mgr Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of the Russian bishops’ conference.

“We hope this visit won’t be confined to political dialogue between the Holy See and Russian Federation. The local dimension is crucial to any such dialogue, and we count on this being recognised,” he said.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, will be the most senior Vatican figure in Moscow in nearly two decades when he visits from 20th to 24th August. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, former secretary of state, dedicated Moscow’s Immaculate Conception Catholic basilica in December 1999.

Mgr Kovalevsky told Catholic News Service on 13th August that Russia’s Catholics expected the cardinal to prioritise ties with the predominant Orthodox Church and the government of President Vladimir Putin. However, he added that his church was still trying to regain Soviet-seized Catholic buildings in Moscow, after city officials rejected a court order to hand them back, in one of many local disputes.

Picture: People are seen in Moscow. (CNS photo/Maxim Shemetov, Reuters).