Cardinal Kurt Koch travelled to Moscow from 11-13 February 2019 to celebrate the third anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on 12 February 2016 in Havana.
For the occasion, Cardinal Koch and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk co-chaired an international symposium on "Death and Dying in a Technological Society: Between Biomedicine and Spirituality". The issue of the defence of life was indeed one of the themes of the Havana Joint Declaration.
The symposium, organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, was held at the Saints Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute of Postgraduate Studies, with the participation of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuyevo, President of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In his address, Cardinal Koch pointed out that “with the hindsight of three years, we see better how much the meeting we are celebrating today has opened a new chapter in the relationship between our churches”, citing the examples of the translation of the relics of Saint Nicholas to Russia in 2017, as well as many reciprocal visits and cultural projects, that testify to the many “bonds that are gradually being woven between our Churches to mend, thread after thread, the torn tunic of Christ”. Recalling the previous commemoration in Fribourg in 2017 and Vienna in 2018, the Cardinal welcomed this first commemoration in Russia. Indeed, “one of the important fruits of the February 12, 2016 meeting is the annual joint commemoration of this event, which is an opportunity to publicly celebrate the rapprochement of our churches and to reflect on the witness that we have committed to give together”.
On the same day, Cardinal Koch presided over Mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where he was welcomed by Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow.
On 13 February 2019, there was the annual meeting of the Joint Working Group for Cultural Cooperation between the Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate, co-chaired by Cardinal Koch and Metropolitan Hilarion. The meeting was an opportunity to review the projects undertaken and to discuss new initiatives for 2019-2020.
Attending on the Catholic side were Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to Moscow, Monsignor Renzo Pegoraro, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Revd Fr Carlo Casalone, Official of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Revd Kirill Gorbunov, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, Revd Fr Hyacinthe Destivelle, OP, Official of the PCPUC, and Mr Pyotr Gumenyuk, staff member of the Aid to the Church in Need Foundation.
For the Orthodox Church there were Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov, President of the Patriarchal Council of Culture, Hieromonk Pavel (Scherbachev), Vice-President of the Patriarchal Council for Culture, Hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), Father Alexy Dikarev, Hieromonk Pavel (Cherkasov) and Alexei Puzakov, Artistic Director of the Moscow Synodal Choir.
Photos : Service de communication DREE (1-4, 9-12) ; Olga Dubyagina (5-8).