ROME, December 11, 2009 – In a terse statement two days ago, Russia and the Church of Rome announced "the establishment of diplomatic relations between them, at the level of apostolic nunciature on the part of the Holy See, and of embassy on the part of the Russian Federation."
Six days earlier, on December 3, Pope Benedict XVI had received in audience Dmitri Medvedev, president of the Russian Federation, to whom he had given a Russian-language copy of the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," and with whom he had discussed "cultural and social topics of common interest, like the value of the family and the contribution of believers to the life of Russia."
But it is not only with the authorities of the Russian state that the Church of Rome now has relations defined by both sides as "friendly."
With the Orthodox Church of Moscow as well, spring appears to have sprung.
One signal of this came at the same time as Medvedev's visit to Italy. A book was presented in Rome on December 2, published by the patriarchate of Moscow and containing the main speeches about Europe made over the past ten years by Joseph Ratzinger, as cardinal and pope.
The entire volume is in two languages, Italian and Russian. The title is taken from an expression that Benedict XVI used in Prague: "Europa, patria spirituale [Europe, spiritual homeland]." And its extensive introduction is signed by the president of the patriarchate's department for external Church relations, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk (in the photo), an authority of the highest order: suffice it to say that the previous occupant of this post, Kirill, is today the patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Moscow "and all Rus."
Read it all here.