Russian Orthodox, Polish Catholic leader sign appeal for reconciliation
Published: August 17, 2012
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The head of the Russian Orthodox Church and the president of the Polish Catholic bishops' conference signed a joint message Aug. 17 urging Poles and Russians to set aside centuries of anger and prejudice and work together to maintain their countries' Christian identities. The signing of the reconciliation "Message to the Nations of Poland and Russia" was the key moment of the first-ever visit of a Russian Orthodox patriarch to modern Poland. "We enter a path of honest dialogue in the hope that it will heal the wounds of the past, facilitate our overcoming mutual prejudice and misunderstanding and strengthen us in our pursuit of reconciliation," said the message signed by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, president of the Polish bishops' conference. The signing ceremony was broadcast live on Polish television. Polish Catholic and Russian Orthodox officials had been preparing the statement for more than two years in an effort to overcome historical grudges between the two nations and long-standing tensions between the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Polish Catholic Church. A long history of battles over territory became more complicated during World War II when Poland was invaded by both Germany and Russia. After the war, Poland came under the influence of the Soviet Union. Under communism, the Catholic and Orthodox churches were subject to government pressure, with the minority Orthodox in Poland and minority Catholics in Russia suffering particularly harsh treatment. The reconciliation message said, "Sin, which is the principal source of all divisions, human frailty, individual and collective egoism as well as political pressure, led to mutual alienation, overt hostility and even struggle between our nations.
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