Thursday, November 7, 2013

Putin to Visit Pope Francis -- To Forge a New "Holy Alliance"?

(Moscow / Vatican) Russia's President Vladimir Putin will pay a visit to Pope Francis. The audience is set for Monday, the 25th of November. The meeting was strongly desired by the Russian head of state. The diplomats of the Kremlin made inquiries a few weeks ago at the Vatican to include a trip to Rome during Putin's trip to Italy, which leads him to Trieste. The wish was granted immediately by the Vatican. On the same day, the man in the Kremlin will also pay a courtesy visit to the Italian Head of State, as required by diplomatic convention. But the real destination is Pope Francis.

Putin is not just seeking a photo-op, which would immortalize him next to the head of the Catholic Church. Russia seeks to establish a new network of strategic partnerships for several years. This was exemplified with the rapprochement between the Russian Orthodox and the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI., an approach that is reinforced by the reigning Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill. However, the approach involves not only the Church but also the political level. And reveals that this is not just a purely political question.

Moscow in Search of Strategic Allies

In Moscow there is a quest for similarities and potential allies for a counterweight to the United States. A power struggle under very different circumstances. It's about national interests, geopolitics, and influence. But it is also a dimly recognizable counter-model to the new Western state doctrine of relativism. At this level, Putin calls out to the West. He did this by supporting the opponents of gay marriage in France and by Russia's refusal to fall under the U.S. Cartel. In addition to a national antagonism, a new ideology has entered. A contrast that will take place globally as the different language programs broadcast by Russian television show. There are  English and a Spanish editors to supply much of the world with counter-information to Western broadcasters.

The promising contacts by Benedict XVI arose between Moscow and the Vatican, should the Kremlin so desire, will be be expanded. The opportunity to continue leading the way with Pope Francis is apparent. Putin wants to personally attend the last decisive exploratory visit on the 25th November. Syria will only be a topic of discussion to demonstrate similarities. Russia has signaled in the Middle East it is ready to take on the role of protector of the Christians, whom the West seems to be willing to give up on other interests. 

Recognized Role of Russia: Open Letter from Francis to Putin

Early September, Pope Francis signaled that Russia must play an important role with an open letter to Putin, facing the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. Specifically, it was about the Syrian conflict. This was followed by prompt cooperation in the diplomatic field between the Vatican and Russia to defuse the conflict by securing Syrian President Assad's assent to destroy chemical weapons. The fate of Christians in the Middle East will be discussed at the meeting. Pope Francis has so far avoided any gesture that could be exploited in any way in an anti-Islamic manner by the West or from Russia. Unlike the West, he avoided any mention and even praise for the "Arab spring", in whose lee the Islamists in the Middle East experienced an unexpected increase in power. But he also avoided any invitation to the old protective forces to work beyond diplomatic activities for the protection of Christians in the Orient.

A new "Holy Alliance"? - Argentine Pope is no Longer in East-West Logic of the Cold War

In Russia, there is quite an interest to forge a kind of "Holy Alliance". Moscow has set aside a lot of the old resentment against the West and its representatives. What seemed unthinkable for the Moscow Patriarch with a Polish Pope, was already possible under a German pope. Then a Pope from Argentina is definitively not in the old East-West logic in which the Catholic Church was seen as part of the North Atlantic Alliance by Russia. This is also why new opportunities of approach are seen in the East.

Opportunities that could possibly lead to long-silent and gradually prepared meeting between a pope and a patriarch of Moscow. The trail leads to Moscow on a common defense of non-negotiable values.

Papal Gesture of Goodwill for Orthodox

Pope Francis shown his hand already in several benevolent gestures toward Orthodoxy. On the return flight from Rio de Janeiro, he expressed his admiration for the Orthodox liturgy, which is to have more strongly preserved the sacred. In his Civiltà Cattolica interview, he said of the Orthodox: "From them you can learn even more the meaning of episcopal collegiality and the tradition of Synodality".

On November 12th the "Foreign Minister" of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, has already come to Rome. The occasion is the presentation of a book with contributions of the Russian philologist Sergei Averintsev (1937-2004), who was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences as an Orthodox. Hilarion's stay in Rome, are seen also as preparatory talks proceeding the 25th of November.

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
 Image: Wikicommons
Trans: Tancred

Link to Katholisches...


Geremia said...

Putin will beat Obama, who, to my knowledge, still hasn't met him in person.

Eugene said...

As a Russian Catholic, I can only rejoice at this piece of news.

Aged parent said...

My friend, I rejoice with you.

Aged Parent
The Eye Witness

Anonymous said...

Alan Aversa, They have met and Mr. Putin is a leap and bound ahead of Obama and he will be un comparison to any neo-con president we may be assaulted by in the near future. This global hegemony doctrine of the US is passé and detrimental. The US needs to practice some humility for the sake of all. I too rejoice in this meeting.

Anonymous said...

This is not a flippant request, but can someone briefly state what this good news is? We don't exactly have a faithful Catholic pope. I've read the article twice and don't see anything promising except the remote possibility that Putin will request the Consecration of Russia.

Geremia said...

Obama met Francis? When?

Geremia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tancred said...

It's news. Who can say whether it is good or not. The first "Holy Alliance" was envisioned by Alexander Ist against Napoleon. Not a bad cause. The Holy Father wasn't included in that treaty, although it would have been hard for Pius VII to do so since he was Napoleon's "guest" and occasional punching bag.

Tancred said...

It also looks like Pope Francis, who as one reader tells me, knew Patriarch Kiril well before he was Pope as shepherd of South America's Eastern Catholics. It looks like the groundwork established by the Holy Father is being continued and who knows, perhaps we can expect to see a Pope saying the Divine Liturgy with the Patriarch of Moscow?

Aged parent said...


I believe many are hopeful that despite the Pope's often weird and depressing statements it would be a good thing for both of them to meet for a number of reasons.

If, and I say "if", such a meeting begins to take a few baby steps toward ending this terrible, tragic schism between the Catholics and the Orthodox then that can only be a good thing. There is the danger that the Pope's misguided ecumenism might cause problems here but we can still hope.

Secondly I think it fairly obvious that Putin is the only world leader who is taking serious steps to protect the Middle East Christians - Orthodox and Catholic. While the US and Israeli governments could care less about what happens to the Christians, Russia under Putin does. I realize that punctures our long-held Cold War attitudes but facts are facts.

I admit to thinking to myself, "OK Your Holiness, this is an important meeting...don't blow it." I am not unconcerned by what the Pope has said and done recently: i share everyone's anxiety and am no papolater. But for whatever reason he did it, it cannot be doubted that the September 7th initiative of the Pope, when he called for a day of fasting and prayer for Syria, was in my mind a decisive factor in stopping the US and Israel in their tracks and stopping the planned unjustifiable attack on that country. Putin came up with the idea of calling the war mongers' bluff, and it worked. Was this the answer to the September 7th day of fasting and prayer? Was Putin God's instrument here? I don't know. But it is at least interesting to think about.

Like you I hope that the Consecration of Russia will happen and soon. We don't know if this meeting will bring that event any closer to fruition. But we can hope for that, too.

Geremia said...

From his Press Office biography of his Cardinal days, he was, as the first sentence prominently notes and makes bold, "Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an Ordinary of their own rite." This may have been the most important "selling point" for his election.

Tancred said...

I still don't quite understand how a many who had such a profound love for the Divine Liturgy, and offer praise to schismatics for preserving it, could at the same time make those assorted sideways comments against Catholics doing what amounts to the same thing in his diocese. Perhaps he's not aware of his special pleading?

Anonymous said...

no no. Sorry. I misunderstood you.

Anonymous said...

Russia does not need to be 'consecrated' and the only 'schism' was the unitaterally bad action of Cardinal Humbert against his brother Christians in 1054AD. As a person raised in the RCC, who watched Vatican II destroy what was left of the Church, the realization of the heretical nature of the filioque, and its continued use by Rome, even after the pleas of the Orthodox, shows that it is Rome that needs to make the first step. And a corrupt, and graceless communion cannot make effectual prayers. End of Story.

P.S. I doubt you'll publish it, but you should. The West is the erring brother, not the other way around. And I am saddened to realize that fifty or more years of my life was spent trying to claim righteousness from a communion that was graceless, hundreds of years before I was born, but clearly is satanic since 1965.
- Fr. John+

schmenz said...

In light of this most interesting event it is somewhat amusing to note that a certain well-known blogsite, which considers itself the be-all and end-all of Catholic blogging (and who recently did away with its comment section), has climbed atop its electronic Mt Olympus and instructed us to stop getting "excited" about this meeting between Mr Putin and Francis because our hopes, to put it in their words, may "do more harm".

Good grief.

I suppose that now that we have been officially admonished by their distinguished blog editor we must all sit down and shut up like all the other little boys and girls.

Little wonder they did away with their comments section.

Unknown said...

All this is wonderful. To forget that the USA was the main force which saved Western Europe from being dominated by the USSR from 1945 until the USSR collapsed in 1991 is WRONG. The EU is creating a Godless and materialist mega state with a lust for power and total domination of its citizens denying them the basic freedoms which Americans are guaranteed in their Constitution, especially its Bill of Rights. At the same time the EU allows a massive migration of 3rd worlders, especially Muslims, into its midst is which is creating a demographic catastrophe for Europe within a generation. Putin is a nationalist. he has no concept of the uniqueness of the USA as an experiment in freedom which has been a light in the world for over 240 years. No one can say that Russia under the tsars or it's Communist leaders was anything but darkness and oppression. Neither the EU or Putin's Russia are to be trusted. They lust for power. The USA never wanted to be a super power. This was a responsibility it was given because of WW II. When nations WANT power as the EU and Russia do then beware. Trouble will follow.