Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Putin Meets Francisco… State Visit, Nothing More

00 Putin and Pope Francisco. 26.11.13


Editor’s Note:

This was a state visit, nothing more, it lasted less than an hour. “Constructive talks” in diplomatese means that not much was said and no food fight ensued (it wasn’t “open and frank discussion”, which signifies a Texas Steel Cage Match). There was the usual ecumenist blather, but one has to expect that, especially, from uninformed zapadniki. In the end, it was a photo op and little much else. Much Sturm und Drang, little substance. Ho hum…



On Monday, President Vladimir Putin showed off his religious side during a visit to the Vatican, stopping to cross himself and venerate an icon of the Mother of God that he gave to Pope Francisco Bergoglio. However, Moscow‘s improving relations with the Vatican went only so far… Putin didn’t invite Francisco to visit. The Vatican said that the two men didn’t really discuss ecumenical relations between the Catholic and Orthodox churches during the 35-minute meeting in the pope‘s private library, although Putin brought greetings from Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias. Rather, the discussions between Putin and the pope, and, then, Putin and the Vatican’s top diplomats, focused on Syria and the role of Christianity in society.

Putin thanked Francisco for his September letter to the G20 meeting in St Petersburg, in which the pope urged world leaders to abandon the “futile pursuit” of a military solution in Syria and lamented that one-sided interests had prevented a diplomatic end to the conflict. Francisco mobilised hundreds of thousands of people around the globe to participate in a daylong fast and prayer for peace, as the USA threatened military strikes following a 21 August chemical weapons attack near Damascus. Moscow opposed military intervention, as well. Francisco gave Putin a ceramic mosaic of the Vatican gardens, and Putin presented Francisco with an icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir, an important Orthodox icon. After they exchanged gifts, Putin asked Francisco if he liked the icon, and the pope said that he did. Then, Putin crossed himself and venerated the image, and Francisco followed suit. The Argentine pope is particularly devoted to icons of the Mother of God.

Long-standing tensions in Russia between Orthodox and Catholics prevented Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger, and, before him, Pope John Paul II Wojtyła, from achieving their long-sought dream of a Russian pilgrimage, along with a meeting with the Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias. Recently, officials floated the idea of a meeting in a third country, but Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said that Putin and the pope didn’t discuss ecumenical issues. He confirmed that Putin didn’t invite Francisco, making the Russian president one of the few world leaders who’ve visited the popular pope and didn’t extend an invitation in exchange.

Nicole Winfield

Associated Press



On Monday, the Vatican said that President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francisco Bergoglio discussed the need for talks to resolve the Syrian conflict, as UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi huddled with American and Russian officials in Genève in a bid to set a date for a peace conference on the conflict in Syria, which most expect to happen in January. Vatican sources said that the two leaders talked about the urgent need “to promote concrete initiatives for a peaceful solution to the conflict, favouring negotiation”, following a 35-minute audience in the Apostolic Palace. The Holy See said in a statement that they agreed any solution should involve “the various ethnic and religious groups, recognising their essential role in society”. The Kremlin chief and the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics also discussed “the urgency of the need to bring an end to the violence and to ensure necessary humanitarian assistance for the population”. Pope Francisco is a powerful voice against an armed international intervention in the Syria conflict and voiced concern about the plight of Christian minorities there and in other parts of the Middle East.

On Monday, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said that Putin also brought greetings for Pope Francisco from Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, but didn’t invite the pope to Moscow… an elusive diplomatic breakthrough. Francisco put particular emphasis on improving relations with the Orthodox world ever since being elected in March, and Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis of Constantinople was present at his inauguration. This was Putin’s fourth meeting with a pope; he had audiences with the late Pope John Paul II Wojtyła in 2000 and 2003, and he met in 2007 with now-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Ratzinger, who stepped down earlier this year in a momentous move. In recent years, strained relations between Catholics and Russian Orthodox improved greatly and the head of the MP DECR said that an historic meeting between the pope and the patriarch was now “more and more realistic” {in a pig’s arse. The Blunder’s been touting that for years, and it hasn’t happened yet… and won’t until the Vatican reins in the Galician Uniates: editor}. In an interview with Le Figaro published on Monday, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev said that Russia supported the pope’s drive for collegiality in governing the Roman Catholic Church and his appeals for Christians in the Middle East {the average Russian doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Catholicism, and even fewer care what goes on within it: editor}. He said, “All this makes the possibility of a future meeting between the pope and the patriarch more and more realistic… As for the possible place and date, there has been no bilateral discussion on this” {as VAC said the last time the Blunder opened up his yap, it’ll happen on an ice floe in Antarctica, with the penguins as witnesses: editor}.

Later on Monday, Putin had dinner with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who denied reports that the Kremlin leader could offer him diplomatic papers that’d allow him to flee a growing number of legal woes. The Kremlin said that Putin would then head to Trieste in northeast Italy for talks with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Tuesday, where they’ll sign several business deals and announce a 1 billion Euro ($1.4 billion) joint investment fund.

25 November 2013




On Monday, Pope Francisco Bergoglio and President Vladimir Putin met amidst high expectations that their visit could mark the beginning of the end of the centuries-old rift between Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since becoming pontiff in March, Francis met with more than a dozen heads of state, and Putin met with both of his predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II Wojtyła. However, this meeting comes at a unique time. Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican expert for La Stampa said, “What’s making [this visit] different this time is who he’ll meet… a pope, Francisco, who, for the first time, isn’t from Europe. Therefore, [Francisco] has a more independent approach on international issues such as the relations between Orthodox and Catholics. Being from Argentina, [Francisco] isn’t tied to the old idea of Western Christianity, so this could play in [Putin’s] favour”.

Francisco ushered in a period of reform at the Vatican, but the timing is right for a thawing of relations between the Eastern and Western churches (sic) for other reasons, too… Russia and the Holy See only re-established full diplomatic ties in 2009. Nevertheless, despite numerous visits by Russian leaders to the Vatican, the head of the Catholic Church has never been allowed to repay the favour and travel to Moscow. The pope has had a standing invitation to the Kremlin since Mikhail Gorbachyov formally invited Pope John Paul II Wojtyła in 1989, but the MP never shared the government’s enthusiasm. Afraid of Catholic evangelisation in Eastern Europe, the Patriarch never opened the doors of the Orthodox Church to the pope. That may soon change. Francisco showed that reaching out to the Orthodox Church was at the top of his agenda from Day One of his pontificate, when he invited Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis, Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, to his installation mass. He was the first Orthodox leader to attend a papal inaugural Mass since the Great Schism split Eastern and Western Christians in 1054.

Still, Putin’s personal style couldn’t be more different from the low-key Francisco. Putin travelled to Rome with a delegation of 11 ministers and countless delegates who sped towards the Vatican in 50 cars that sent Rome into a massive gridlock… he was still 50 minutes late to the meeting. The Vatican didn’t offer any comment after the 35-minute meeting. However, observers expected at least one major foreign policy issue to dominate it, one on which the two found common ground… Syria. The two leaders agree that a non-military response to the Syrian conflict is the best course of action. Still, could a historic papal visit to Russia also come out of the meeting? It won’t unless Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, the First Hierarch of the MP, blesses it. Tornielli, the Vatican expert, pointed up that Kirill “doesn’t really need Putin to mediate. He’s capable of doing that himself. I think what’ll happen next is that he and the pope will meet, but in neutral territory, neither in Rome nor in Moscow… they’ll go from there”.

Claudio Lavagna

NBC News



On Monday, Pope Francisco Bergoglio and President Vladimir Putin met and discussed the Middle East and problems faced by Christians across the world, but didn’t touch on the strained relationship between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church. The 35-minute meeting at the Vatican was the first between Pope Francisco and Putin, who met the pontiff’s two immediate predecessors, Benedict XVI Ratzinger and John Paul II Wojtyła. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ told reporters after the encounter, “It was quite a cordial and constructive meeting”. Putin arrived around 45 minutes late because of transport problems. Relations between the Catholic Church and Russia have long been uneasy because of accusations that the Vatican tried to poach believers from the Orthodox Church, a charge it denies. Fr Federico said that Putin brought a greeting to the pope from Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, the First Hierarch of the MP, but didn’t talk about inter-church matters. There was also no discussion of a possible visit to Russia by Francisco. Putin embraced the Orthodox Church as a moral authority, harnessed its influence as a source of political support, and championed socially-conservative values since starting a new six-year term in May 2012. The two leaders discussed the civil war in Syria and the pope emphasised the need to end violence and bring assistance to the civilian population. On Tuesday, the Russian President, accompanied by ministers and business leaders, is due to meet Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and members of the government in the northeastern port city of Trieste.

James Mackenzie




On Monday, President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francisco Bergoglio met in the Vatican for one-on-one talks that focused on finding a peaceful solution to the present civil war in Syria. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said that during the Pope’s “cordial and constructive” meeting with Putin, “special attention was given to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East and to the serious situation in Syria”. The two men agreed that a solution to the conflict should “involve the various ethnic and religious elements, recognizing their essential role in society”. They also discussed “the urgency of stopping the violence and bringing the necessary humanitarian assistance to the [Syrian] population”. Putin’s spokesman said the one-on-one talks in the Apostolic Palace lasted twice as long as planned. Putin and the pontiff exchanged gifts, and the pope asked the Russian leader to send his regards to Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, the First Hierarch of the MP. Thaddeus Jones, an official with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said that Putin’s meeting with the pope signalled the acknowledgement of Russia’s role on the international arena. He said that the Vatican and Italy expressed deep gratitude for Russia’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict through multilateral negotiations and without an escalation of violence. Catholicnews.com reported that the two didn’t discuss ecumenical issues. A few issues have strained relations between Catholic and MP leaders, preventing any meeting. In particular, the MP accused the Vatican of trying to poach its believers… an accusation the Catholics denied. After the audience, Putin had dinner with his old friend former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and held closed-door talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Palazzo del Quirinale. Putin will travel Tuesday to Trieste to meet with Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta to discuss bilateral cooperation, and economic and international issues, including Syria.



25/26 November 20013



Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Pope Francisco Refuses to Live in Spacious Papal Apartment

00 Pope Francisco Bergoglio. 16.03.13


On Tuesday, citing his spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, the BBC reported that Pope Francisco Bergoglio opted to stay at a modest two-room residence instead of moving to the grand papal apartment on the top floor of the Vatican‘s Apostolic Palace. Pope Francisco decided to stay in the Domus Sanctæ Marthæ hotel-style residence inside Vatican City, where he lived with other cardinals during the conclave that saw him elected earlier this month. The BBC quoted Lombardi as saying, “This morning, he let his fellow cardinals know that he’d keep living with them for a certain period of time”. Lombardi explained the pope’s decision as a desire for “a simple life” and said that Pope Francisco would live there for “a certain period of time”. In refusing to move to the palatial penthouse apartment with more than a dozen rooms, staff quarters, and a large terrace, Pope Francisco broke an over-century-old tradition. On March 13, a conclave of cardinals elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires the 266th Pope of Rome, becoming the first Latin American to lead the Catholic Church.

27 March 2013



Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Vatican is Speculating on the Possible Date of the Election of a New Pope of Rome



On Tuesday at 13.00 CET (04.00 PST. 07.00 EST. 12.00 UTC. 16.00 MSK. 23.00 AEST), the world-famous Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, an outstanding shrine of Renaissance art, was closed indefinitely to the public in connection with the upcoming conclave, which will elect a new Pope of Rome. A message posted on the official website of the Vatican Museums indicated that in this period the Borgia Apartment, located on the floor below the famous chapel, along with its rich collection of religious art (Vatican Collection of Modern Religious Art), would close to the public. The Sistine Chapel, decorated with frescoes by MichelangeloBotticelli, PeruginoPinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, and other great Italian masters, is the centre of attraction for millions of tourists who annually visit the Vatican Museums. It was built in 1473-81 by the architect Giorgio de Dolci commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere.

Since the end of 15th century, the Sistine Chapel hosted the conclaves that elected the Pope of Rome. The first conclave in the Chapel was in 1492, which elected Rodrigo Borgia as pope, who took the name of Alexander VI. However, the Sistine Chapel became the formal site for the conclave only in 1996, when Pope John Paul II Wojtyła issued the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis (The Whole Congregation of the Lord), which details all the regulations for a conclave. So far, the Chapel hosted 24 papal elections, whilst conclaves were held in the Vatican Palace 51 times. In addition, papal elections took place in Rome (outside the Vatican) 34 times, in Perugia, Viterbo, and Avignon, 5 times, in Naples, 2 times, and in once in each of Siena, Terracina, Velletri, Verona, Ferrara, Pisa, Konstanz, Anagni, Arezzo, Lyon, and Venice.

Sergei Startsev


Italian newspaper La Stampa and its website Vatican Insider, which has a capable stable of Vatican experts, is creating a special blog dedicated to the conclave, and announced that it’d cost 1,000 dollars in order to access it. The demo version of the service, called “live broadcast”, covering the confidential meetings of the College of Cardinals concerning the conclave, is in the public domain. The creators say that the blog will publish material about the conclave and related events in Rome and the Vatican written by analysts, scholars, and experts in real time. At the same time, the proposal doesn’t specify how it’s going to obtain information about the conclave, since, according to Catholic tradition, the violation of conclave secrecy is punishable by excommunication. Not only the Cardinals, but the chief master of ceremonies, his aides, the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, the monks who hear the confessions of the prelates, and the medical staff take an oath to keep secret everything that they hear and see during the conclave, and not to use recording or technical devices. At the conclave, the cardinals can’t receive mail, or use telephones or other communication equipment. In 2011, Vatican expert Andrea Tornielli published in Vatican Insider the secret diary of the 2005 conclave that elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope. It described in detail the balance of power, the main candidates, the voting process, and the distribution of votes after each round, until the conclave elected a new pope.

Viktor Khrul


According to Fr Federico Lombardi, the official spokesman of the Holy See, not all the cardinal-electors eligible to participate in the conclave to elect a new pope have arrived in the Vatican; he expects them all to be in Rome on Thursday. He stated that out of 115 “princes of the Church”, which will elect a new pope, only two aren’t at the Vatican. Lombardi said that the start date for the conclave isn’t set yet. On Wednesday, the cardinals held the fourth session of the general congregation in the new hall of the Synod of Bishops to discuss critical issues of church life on the eve of the conclave. Lombardi said that 153 people attended the meeting. He also said that two sessions of the congregation would meet on Thursday… one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

According to the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis (The Whole Congregation of the Lord), issued in February 1996 by John Paul II, the pope should be elected at a meeting of cardinals, none of whom should be over 80-years-old. Currently, the College of Cardinals has 208 members, of which only 117 are electors. Experts expect that in the March conclave will attract 115 cardinal-electors. According to a particular rescript motu proprio signed by Benedict XVI Ratzinger in June 2007, his successor will have to win at least two-thirds of the conclave’s vote. During his 11 February announcement about his decision to abdicate the papal ministry , Benedict XVI noted the need to convene a conclave urgently to elect a new Pope of Rome. Lombardi said then that that Catholics should have a new pope by Easter, which Catholics celebrate on 31 March this year.

Natalia Shmakova


Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi didn’t rule out that the Roman Catholic Church could have a new pope by Catholic Palm Sunday, which falls on 24 March this year. In answering reporters’ questions, Lombardi said, “Whether we’d have a new pope by Palm Sunday depends on the conclave. The general expectation is that it may well be, but that’s only a desire, not a certainty”. Lombardi also said that the College of Cardinals, which has to meet in March to elect a new pope, has “no hurry” in setting a date for the beginning of the conclave, noting, “They have an outstanding sense of commitment; accordingly, they’ll be thoughtful, earnest, and careful in preparation [for the conclave]”. Earlier Wednesday, the Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, said publicly that there might be a possibility of an enthronement of a new Pope of Rome by 17 March.

Sergei Startsev

5/6 March 2013






Thursday, 28 February 2013

Papacy Vacant as Benedict Leaves Vatican

01 Rome-Italy-Vatican-Giampaolo-Macorig


On Thursday, the Fisherman’s Throne in the Vatican was vacant as of 20.00 CET (11.00 PST. 14.00 EST. 19.00 UTC. 23.00 MSK. 06.00 1 March AEST), after Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger left the Apostolic Palace, heading for the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo. Earlier on Thursday, he addressed all the cardinals in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, giving them a blessing and shaking hands. Benedict also bid his followers farewell on Thursday in the last message on his Twitter account, which he later closed, texting, “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives”.

Benedict, who became the 265th Pope of Rome in 2005 following his predecessor John Paul II Wojtyła’s death, announced his resignation due to old age and failing health on 11 February. The last pope to step down voluntarily was Gregory XII Corraro in 1415. Earlier, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said that the conclave to elect a successor to Benedict could begin before 15 March if all the cardinals were present in Rome. Under church rules, the conclave should begin between 15 to 20 days after the papacy becomes vacant, to give cardinals time to get to Rome.

28 February 2013



Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.