EUROPE/RUSSIA – The Catholic community of Moscow: in the face of war, pray for peace, hope in God, touch the wounds of the suffering
Moscow (Agenzia Fid as well as hatred and anger. In this situation of polarization, even co-religionists are sometimes perceived as “enemies”. That is why the zealous prayer for peace in the spirit of the consecration of the Ukraine and Russia by Pope Francis to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is important, considered also by some Orthodox as an important sign, because, as always in extreme circumstances, the awareness of one’s own impotence gives us the possibility of placing our hopes in God himself with a greater awareness, to rediscover the power and importance of prayer, which in many cases becomes “the only possible response, even to divisions. This is what we read in the Document closing of the synodal works of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God, which has just been published and sent to Agenzia Fides. The text, referring to the ongoing war in Ukraine, asks “the will to touch one’s own injuries and t those of others, as the apostle Thomas touched the wounds of Christ; to maintain contact, even “on the other side of the border”; serve peace in all contexts; to serve the needy, regardless of their origins or opinions”. The Synod “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission”, convened by Pope Francis for the biennium 2021-2023, is divided into several phases and foresees for the first time the broad and active involvement of the laity during this initial phase, dedicated to listening to the requests of the different groups and communities. “The most important result, in my opinion, is the openness to relationships with others, which has led us to want to continue this “path together” also in the future; and to become aware of our common responsibility towards the Church”, reports to Agenzia Fides Oksana Pimenova, coordinator of the “Youth Center” (“Molodëžnyj centr”) in Moscow, one of the groups of Russian Catholics in the Archdiocese of the Mother of God, who since September 2021 participated in the first phase of the synodal journey. In collaboration with Fr. Stephan Lipke SJ, secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Russian Federation, and with Fr. Georgij Kromkin, director of the diocesan information service, Oksana Pimenova was commissioned to write the text.
Together with the concluding documents of the other three suffragan dioceses that make up the Ecclesiastical Province of the Catholic Church of Russia, the text is sent to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Federation which, from the four provisional documents, will compose the definitive text that will reach the Synodal Commission of the European Continent.
The Archdiocese of the Mother of God, led by Msgr. Paolo Pezzi, covers an area of 2,629,000 km² and includes about a hundred communities, in which 82 working groups were born in which the synodal journey was discussed as a means of fully living belonging to the Catholic Church and to its own local community. Due to various difficulties related to the pandemic and the geopolitical situation, it was not possible in all the groups to arrive at a jointly drafted text, but 52 contributions were submitted and discussed during the final meeting of the first synodal phase, held in St. Petersburg on June 15 and 16. Starting from this base of texts which expressed the issues discussed during the months of work, the Conclusion Document of the Archdiocese carries the problems and requests for renewal expressed by both majority and minority groups. As we learn from the text, several representatives of the Orthodox and other Christian denominations took part in the synodal meetings. Among the various problems that emerged and the needs highlighted in the text: the need to deepen the community dimension of the life of faith; the problem of clericalism, which opposes the desire for greater collaboration between clergy and laity; the need to improve the formation of catechists; wider effective use of the means of communication; the difficulty of dealing with the question of the exercise of authority in the Church. In addition, the need for specific accompaniment of spouses belonging to different Christian confessions, whose experience is defined as “the highest form of interconfessional dialogue”, is underlined. The Document, as can also be read in the accompanying letter to its publication signed by Msgr. Pezzi, expresses the hope that the synodal work will continue in the years to come, recalling that the goal of life in the Church is the encounter with Christ himself.
In view of the new pastoral year, Oksana Pimenova concludes: “I am deeply impressed by the action of the Holy Spirit, because together we experience a true conversion of heart and, like the Written Document, we ourselves become ” living documents”, called to bear witness to and continue the synodal journey in our communities: a sign of the living Church and fruitful relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ”. (CD/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 4/7/2022)