Orthodox flock of Rome: hopes are high for the new Pope

Milena Faustova

The Russian Orthodox parish in Rome has high hopes for cooperation and dialogue with the new Pope Francis, Father Antoni Sevruk, rector of the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr in Rome, told the Voice of Russia.

The Saint Catherine Church at the Russian Embassy is a ten-minute walk from the Holy See and enjoys the warmest ties with its Catholic neighbors, says Father Antoni.

“I had a chance to meet with former Pope Benedict XVI a couple of times, and I particularly remember our last meeting when Benedict asked me a lot about our Church and community, social and charity work. I saw that he was really into it. Actually, the windows of his study overlooked the Saint Catherine Church.”

Recently, the number of Orthodox communities has grown in Italy and now they account for about 60.

The country doesn’t have that many Orthodox churches but Catholic priests are always happy to provide a venue for Orthodox services.

Now Orthodox believers are a little bit concerned about potential changes linked to the new Pope.

Francis is said to read Dostoevsky and has often visited Orthodox services in the Russian Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral in Buenos Aires. The Pontiff is also known as an advocate of the Orthodox Church in Argentine’s government, says Father Antoni.

“People are now anticipating the Pope’s first homily scheduled for Sunday. Sure, we need time get to know the new Pope better. We have every hope that he will continue Benedict’s polices in terms of interreligious dialogue.” (end)

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk will head the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate at the enthronement of the Pope Francis. The ceremony is scheduled for March 19.

On March 20, the new Pontiff will meet his guests from the Moscow Patriarchate.

Pope Francis to visit predecessor Benedict XVI on March 23

Pope Francis will visit his predecessor Benedict XVI on March 23 for the first time since his election, the Vatican said on Saturday.

The new pope, former Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, will travel by helicopter to the papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo where Benedict has been staying since his historic resignation last month.

The two men will have lunch together at the residence outside Rome, the Vatican said.Benedict, 85, last month became the first pope to resign for 700 years when he ended his eight-year reign saying he was no longer up to the rigours of the job.

Francis was a surprise choice in this week’s conclave triggered by Benedict’s resignation.The two men know each other well. Bergoglio, 76, is believed to have been runner-up to the German in the 2005 election.

‘I took the name of Francis of Assisi’ – Pope Francis

Pope Francis says that at the conclave that made him Pontiff he rejected a choice of proposed names and named himself after Francis of Assisi, who was a great champion of the poor and peace.

He spoke about this at an audience with some 5,000 international reporters held at the Vatican on Saturday.

His Holiness also said that one of the cardinals at the conclave specifically urged him to mind the world’s poor.

Ahead of the audience, the Vatican’s press service said the Pope sees the media as an instrument of evangelization.

Voice of Russia, AFP, TASS

Pope Francis perceived as conservative

Sergey Duz

Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio is now Pope Francis I. He is also the first Jesuit on the papal throne and the first Pontiff from the Americas. Rumours whirl around, backed by a certain amount of anecdotal evidence, that during Argentina’s military dictatorship in the late 1970s and early 80s he surrendered two slum-going Jesuit priests, Father Orlando Yorio and Father Francisco Jalics, to the military authorities. Archbishop Bergoglio is on record as dismissing these rumours and saying he offered the two priests shelter instead. All remember, however, that Argentina’s Roman Catholic Church urged its flock ‘to show patriotism’ as terror reigned.

We have an opinion from Associate Professor Vladislav Petrushko of Moscow’s Orthodox Institute of St Tikhon:

“Accusations of the kind leveled at Pope Francis are more often than not simple allegations. The Church does not exist in a vacuum. Like it or not, it has to build a relationship with the state. Many call this relationship ‘collaboration’. In each case, however, it is important to find out whether this collaboration amounted to condoning crimes against humanity or simply helped the Church and its flock to survive. I do not believe that Archbishop Bergoglio was involved in atrocities committed by Argentina’s military regime.”

Another important point in the controversy surrounding the new Pontiff is his perceived conservatism. In recent years, he staunchly opposed same-sex marriage, arbitrary sex change and the more radical aspects of feminism. Accordingly, President Nestor Kirchner and his successor Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner listed the Archbishop among their political opponents. The only point of agreement between Mrs de Kirchner and Archbishop Bergoglio was their shared militancy against abortion.

The new Pontiff is also known for his moderation in all aspects and strict austerity. Many hope this will return the Church to its origins, make Roman Catholic hierarchs role models and restore respect and authority to the Vatican.

Russian Catholics welcome Pope Francis as new ‘rudder of faith’

Milena Faustova

On Thursday, the catholic churches in Russia served thanksgiving liturgies marking the election of Pope Francis. In Moscow in the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary the liturgy was served by Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mother of God in Moscow Pavel Pezzi.

On Thursday night the atmosphere in the cathedral Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary in Moscow is almost intimate. In the end of a working day there are only a few believers at the ceremony. The priests in snow white vestments, which are worn on solemn occasions, are calling on believers to pray for Pope Francis. Catholics are only beginning to get accustomed to this new name. For most of them Jorge Mario Bergoglio is still a stranger. Nevertheless many believers already consider him as their Pope and believe he is the one the Roman Catholic Church needs today. “I am sure that under him my church will become better”, Artyom, one of the churchgoers, says

“I never heard of him before but I have read that he is modest and humble of heart, a priest who is devoted to his mission with reasonable degree of conservatism. I think that he is an example for our whole church and I hope that the new Pope will be a good “rudder” leading our ship directly to God without deviating from the course.”

Today the entire catholic world is watching every step and every word of the new Pope. But first impressions are really good, Father Peter, a Catholic priest from Slovakia says.

“I heard of him before. I know that he is very simple, open to people and lives simply, even low. But he is very intelligent and educated. My first impression is very good. For example right after his election when he blessed the believers who gathered in St Peter Square in the Vatican city he was offered a special car to go back to the hotel but he refused and said that he would return to Rome together with other cardinals. He also checked out from the hotel, paid for his room and carried his luggage without allowing anyone to help him. These are very important things that prove that he will be a good Pontific.”

The relations between the Russian Orthodox church and the Catholic church will become warmer, Kirill Gorbunov head of the press service of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mother of God in Moscow says.

“The process of convergence of our Churches is going on independently from any concrete persons. The relations between the Orthodox and Catholic churches are not a question of virtues and shortcomings of its members, whatever the roles of the Pontific or the Moscow Patriarch are. It is rather a matter of fate, of our church’s destiny, reverential trust. Because this is God’s will. Nevertheless, I am confident that Pope Francis will take steps towards our unity.”

On Thursday, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has congratulated Pope Francis on his election as the new head of the Roman Catholic Church and expressed hope for cooperation. The patriarch said both Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics should unite forces to defend fellow believers in countries where they are persecuted, and to affirm traditional moral values in the modern secular world.

‘The new Pope may proclaim another crusade’

Nikolai Yolkin

In an interview with the Voice of Russia, editor-in-chief of the German satirical magazine “Titanic” Leo Fisher expressed his special opinion on the election of the Argentine cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new Pope.

– I am very much pleased with this election, although the choice of the cardinals was a surprise to me. Pope Francis is interesting for us because he has German roots and studied in Freiburg. That is, we have a common reference point. And he is of a very pleasing appearance. He resembles Oliver Hardy of the “Laurel and Hardy” series. In general, I like him. I think that we will successfully cooperate with him.

– And will your magazine make fun of him like you do with other priests?

– “Titanic” is a German satirical magazine. We react to whatever is of interest to the German public; if he is spoken about, and there are some conflicting opinions, we will pay attention to him. However, in comparison with Benedict XVI he is much farther from us. We have little in common with Argentina. We do not know that country very well. But the fact that he was related to the military dictatorship is just wonderful. I think it will cause glorification. I can imagine that he will go down in history as the first military Pope. And Germany is heavily dependent on the export of weapons. And, perhaps, he shall proclaim another crusade. It has been a long time since the Vatican organized a war. It is possible that Francis could take care of it.

– Sometimes your material is rather audacious. Where are the boundaries for that?

– We do not really know, but we constantly think about this. After all, good lawyers are very expensive today. Nevertheless, we publish materials, hoping it will turn out all right somehow. If our material hurt someone’s feelings in any way, we immediately apologize. We are acting in good faith. And we manage to calm people down. For example, last year, Benedict XVI filed a lawsuit on our “Titanic” magazine. But at the last moment he took it back. But it cost us an enormous amount of effort. We explained to the Pope that his photo on the cover, which in fact was the cause of the fuss, had nothing offensive in it. We explained the essence of this image to the Pope. In most cases the complaints are due to misunderstandings. And for the most part, when we resolve misunderstandings, nobody is hurt.

When the Voice of Russia talked with Leo Fisher on the eve of the election of the Pope, he had other preferences:

“I like the Archbishop of Berlin Rainer Maria Woelki. We especially like the fact that he looks funny. This is a cross between the ageing Harry Potter and a big screech-owl. We like him very much, too. He likes to communicate with children, he communicates with clergyman on YouTube and gives interviews,” Leo Fisher said then.

Argentina’s Jorge Bergoglio elected 266th Catholic Pope (PHOTOS)

Pope says Benedict’s resignation was ‘courageous’ act

Pope Francis on Friday hailed predecessor Benedict XVI’s historic resignation as a “courageous and humble act” in a speech to cardinals in the Vatican.

Francis said Benedict, who stepped down last month, had “lit a flame in the depth of our hearts that will continue to burn”.

Undivided love made Pope Francis a priest

Pope Francis’ childhood sweetheart claimed that he devoted his life to God after she refused to marry him when she was 12 years old. Moreover, he never wanted to be a priest.

Amalia Damonte, 77, said that when she was 12 years old, Jorge Bergoglio shoved a letter into her hand declaring his undying love. “He wrote me a letter telling me that one day he would like to marry me. He said that if I didn’t say yes, he would have to become a priest. Luckily for him, I said no!”, the woman added.

Meanwhile, the new pontiff’s sister, María Elena Bergoglio, said that he neither wanted to become the head of the Catholic Church nor to be pope and now he faces a lifetime of “infinite loneliness”.

“He didn’t want to be pope and when we chatted privately about it, we joked at the prospect and he would say ‘no, please no’,” she added. Although Miss Bergoglio admitted that “having a brother who is a pope is a blessing from God”. She also noted that her brother was pleased with his new role by his reaction on television. “The expression on his face spoke of a fullness of heart,” she added.

Voice of Russia, AFP

Enthronement on the day of St Giuseppe

Andrei Smirnov

Pope Francis visited one of the major basilicas of the Eternal City, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Arriving at the temple early in the morning on Thursday, the newly elected Bishop of Rome immediately went to the chapel of the Paolini Basilica where the famous icon of the Salvation of the Roman people is located, one which is especially treasured by the residents of the Eternal City.

Meanwhile the Vatican is preparing for the enthronement of the new Pope.

Plans for the next few days in Rome and details about the upcoming ceremony were told to the Voice of Russia in an exclusive interview with Vatican expert Catherine Santoni-Sinitsyna.

The enthronement ceremony is scheduled for March 19. But in the remaining days no less important matters await Jorge Mario Bergoglio says Catherine Santoni-Sinitsyna: “I was in the press center of the Vatican, and spoke with their Press Secretary Father Federico Lombardi about the coming days. Tomorrow mass will be held in the Sistine Chapel for all of the cardinals who took part in the conclave. On Saturday at 11 am in the auditorium of Paul the 6th, Pope Francis will meet with social workers and journalists. Tuesday will be an unusual day. On March 19 the Feast of St. Giuseppe will be celebrated and on St. Peter’s Square the first public mass will be held which will be followed by the enthronement.”

The ceremony will be held according to the customs of the 1970s of the last century during the time of Pope Paul the Reformer.

Pope Paul I, overturned the dogma that the Pope is God’s representative on earth. Since the the Pope is the vicar of St. Peter, the first Pope.

At that point the coronation of the Pope and the donning of the papal tiara, was cancelled said Catherine Santoni-Sinitsyna. She added: “The modern enthronement will be held on St. Peter’s Square. The first to go through this ceremony was Pope John Paul the 1st. How is it carried out? By the the placing of the pallium on the new Pope’s shoulders as an expression of obedience to the Cardinals, the receiving of the Ring of the Fisherman. At the end of the enthronement the Pope must welcome all of the guests and delegations, which include government officials.”

Among those who will greet Pope Francis, will be a delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion.

76-year-old Argentine Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday night. This followed a two-day conclave, in which there were five votes. Pope Francis succeeds Pope Benedict XVI who resigned.