Patriarch Kirill will not attend the funeral of Benedict XVI this Thursday, January 5, which will be officiated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican and will instead send two representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Thus, the chairman of the Department of Foreign Ecclesiastical Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Antony of Volokolamskand the assistant of said department, ivan nikolaevas confirmed by the Vatican press office in a list made public this Tuesday in which it gives an account of the different leaders of the Orthodox Church who will be present at the funeral on Thursday.
In a message of condolences on the death of the Pope Emeritus, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, highest representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, he highlighted the “fraternal cooperation” between Catholics and Russian Orthodox under the pontificate of Benedict XVI.
“During the pontificate of Benedict XVI, relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church have developed considerably in the spirit of fraternal cooperation and in the desire for interaction on the path to overcoming the sometimes painful legacy of past,” Kirill said in a letter sent to Pope Francis expressing his deepest condolences on the death of the pope emeritus.
Kirill highlighted the “unquestionable authority of Benedict XVI as an eminent theologian allowed him to make a significant contribution to the development of inter-Christian cooperation, to witness to Christ before a secularized world and to the defense of traditional moral values.”
In this regard, he stressed that having had the opportunity to personally meet the late Pope on several occasions, was able to witness “his deep love for Eastern Christianity and, in particular, his sincere respect for the tradition of Russian Orthodoxy”.
Francisco came to meet in person in 2016 with Patriarch Kirill after almost a thousand years of estrangement in a historic meeting at the José Martí airport in Havana, but the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24 has precipitated a estrangement.
The Pope and Patriarch Kirill held a meeting via Zoom in mid-March, but the Russian Orthodox Church accused the Pope of having “misrepresented” the conversation and, as Francis revealed in a later interview with ‘Il Corriere della Sera’, Kirill was He spent the first 20 minutes reading “all the justifications for war.”
“I listened and said: I don’t understand any of this. Brother, we are not state clerics, we cannot use the language of politics, but that of Jesus. We are shepherds of the same holy people of God. That is why we must seek paths of peace, stop the fire of weapons,” Francisco said. Similarly, the Pontiff assured that Patriarch Kirill “cannot become Putin’s altar boy.” These demonstrations were criticized by the Russian Orthodox Church, which claimed that Francis “distorted” the conversation between the two religious leaders.
(with information from EP)