Catholic, Orthodox Leaders Urge Reconciliation
02 Jul 2012 By Catholic News Service
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — Catholic and
Orthodox leaders from Poland and Russia will issue a
joint statement committing their churches to fostering
reconciliation between the two historically feuding
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
“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 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.
Tags: Ecumenism Russia Catholic-Orthodox relations Poland