Catholic, Orthodox Leaders in Reconciliation Effort

Catholic and Orthodox leaders from Poland and Russia will issue a joint statement committing their churches to fostering reconciliation between the two historically feuding countries. Archbishop Henryk Muszynski, Poland's former Catholic primate, said the text could be compared to a famous 1965 declaration by Poland's Catholic bishops to their German counterparts; that document contained the words "we forgive and ask forgiveness." However, he cautioned that Polish-Russian ties had not yet "matured sufficiently" for a comparable pledge of mutual forgiveness and said it was still "very difficult to reach a common position with Russians" on historical issues. "As Poles, we speak clearly about our sufferings from two totalitarian systems—the German Nazi and the Soviet communist—but our Russian partners don't usually place them on the same level," the archbishop told the Polish Catholic news agency KAI. "As bishops, we'll be powerless in this area until historians reach a consensus," he said. "We have the same Gospel and sacraments, and we face similar challenges from the world around us—so we are close and cannot act as antagonists," he said. The archbishop helped finalize the appeal, to be signed in Warsaw on Aug. 17 by the Polish bishops' conference president, Archbishop Jozef Michalik, and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Polish politicians and historians have frequently criticized Russia's lack of public regret for mass deportations and executions that followed their country's Soviet army occupation after World War II and for the later decades of communist oppression. The spokesman for the Polish bishops' conference, Father Jozef Kloch, told KAI the appeal would "mark a turning-point" by reflecting on "what happened between the two nations over centuries" and by urging a "common witness" for Europe and the world.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Celebrating Mass was wonderful the first time I did it 63 years ago. It is, if possible, even more wonderful today.
John Jay HughesApril 27, 2017
House Republicans are making a last-ditch effort to “reform and repeal” the Affordable Care Act before the clock runs out on the Trump administration’s first 100 days on Saturday, April 29.
Kevin ClarkeApril 27, 2017
Death-row inmate Ledell Lee. A ruling from the state Supreme Court allowing officials to use a lethal injection drug that a supplier says was misleadingly obtained cleared the way for Arkansas to execute Ledell Lee on Thursday, April 20, 2017, although he still had pending requests for reprieve. (Arkansas Department of Correction via AP)
To take Holy Communion in the face of death is to say that it is fellowship, and not food, that matters most.
Terrance KleinApril 26, 2017
A man rides a bicycle past a billboard with an image of Pope Francis April 26 ahead of the pontiff's April 28-29 visit to Cairo. (CNS photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)
“Peace be with you” was the message of the Risen Jesus to his disciples on the first Easter, and it is the message Francis will bring to the Muslim and Christian communities in this land.
Gerard O'ConnellApril 26, 2017