Reconciliation is in the air in relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Catholic Church. There was little note in the media of two recent events that signaled a thawing in relations with the Moscow Patriarchate.
On December 9 Russia and the Vatican announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with a Russian ambassador to the Vatican State and a Papal Nuncio in Moscow. The development followed a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Russian president Dimitri Medvedev.
Previous to the meeting between the Holy Father and President Medvedev, the Moscow Patriarchate published a book containing the speeches made by the Pope over the past ten years as cardinal and Pontiff.
The Moscow Patriarchate is the largest among the Eastern Orthodox communion and has previously been very cool toward outreaches by the Vatican. The Russian Church can be a powerful ally in the struggle being waged by the Holy Father against European secularism.
Healing of the ancient division between Rome and the Eastern Patriarchates was a great hope of Pope John Paul II. It appears that reconciliation may be one step closer to reality. God’s grace is clearly at work.