At various times in my articles in The Wanderer, during talks and on this blog I have opined that if we are serious about an authentic ecumenical dialogue, we have to get our liturgical act together: "What must the Orthodox think when they see how we Latins conduct ourselves liturgically?" At the same time, the solemn Mass in the older use of the Roman Rite is as grand as anything the Easterners do.
I see now that the estimable Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale has posted that the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, Alexis II, looks with favor on Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and the derestriction of the older form of Mass.
He also speaks clearly about his view of relations with the Holy See.
The patriarch had finished celebrating the Divine Liturgy for the Dormition of Mass (15 August, The Assumption), in the similarly named Cathedral at the Kremlin. He was briefly interviewed.
Here are some of the significant points from Mr. Tornielli’s article (my translation):
n. 203 del 2007-08-29 pagina 25
"The recovery and valuing of the ancient liturgical tradition is a fact that we greet positively. We hold very strongly to tradition. Without faithfully guarding the liturgical tradition, the Russian Orthodox Church would not have been in a position to resist during the period of persecution, in the 20′s and 30′s in the 1900′s. In that time we had many new martyrs, whose number can be compared to the epoch of the first Christian martyrs."
Holiness, how do you see the relationship between Rome and Moscow right now?
"It seems that Pope Benedict XVI has repeated may times that he desires to work in favor of dialogue and collaboration with the Orthodox Churches. This is positive."
For years already there has been talk of the possibility of a meeting between you and the Pope. Do you think this is possible? When?
"A meeting between the Pope and Patriarch of Moscow must be well prepared and absolutely ought not risk a reduction to a photo opportunity or to walk around together in front of television cameras. It must be a meeting which truly helps firm up the relations between the two Churches…".
You speak of it as if it were rather remote hypothesis. Why?
"Unfortunately today there are still some Catholic missionary bishops who consider Russia as missionary territory. But Russia, Holy Russia has already been enlightened with a centuries old faith which, thanks be to God, was preserved and passed on in the Orthodox Church, and is not missionary territory for the Catholic Church. This is the first point about which it is necessary that problems be clarified and smoothed in view of a meeting with the Pope. The other problem concerns ‘uniatism’."
Why do the uniate communities, those which maintaining the Eastern Rite and Eastern tradition reentered in full communion with Rome, are regarded as a problem?
"The phenomenon of uniatism is troublesome because we see this tendency also in regions where it never was before, for example in the Eastern Ukraine, Belorussia, Kazakhstan and in Russia herself. When these problems are dealt with and resolved then a meeting between the Pope and Patriarch of Moscow can be considered. Then it will truly have its proper meaning."