In Italy, the Orthodox pray in unused/underused Catholic Churches

Here is the surprising offer Benedict XVI has encouraged toward the Orthodox Churches.  The relationship between Rome and Orthodoxy has been contentiouis long before the mutual excommunication of the two heads of their respective churches in the eleventh century. Pope Benedict XVI has initiated and encouraged a variety of efforts to bridge some ot these differences among the various traditions.
His allowing Russian Orthodox congregations to use unused or underused Roman Catholic Churches in Europe is remarkable given the long history of discord. 
The Pope has written extensively about the secularization rampant in Europe.  Attendance at mass has fallen to abysmal levels.  Europe is little help in strengthening or increasing the Catholic Church.  As with Anglicanism, and to some extent Orthodoxy, Catholicism’s main source of current energy and growth is in subSaharan Africa. It will take some years for the power structure within Catholicism to reflect this, but this too will follow. Our Children with see a different Church from that of today.
Below is the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church detailing this initiative from Rome.  Fascinating reading!
Fr. Orthohippo

Moscow Patriarchate: our people growing abroad also with the help

of the Catholic Church, who host us in its facilities. Number of Orthodox

churches built abroad are now over 400.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

By Asia News  See all articles by this author

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Catholic parishes in Italy often left empty are hosting

religious services of the Russian Orthodox Church, which still does not have sufficient facilities of its own
abroad, according to Archbishop Mark of Yegorievsk, head of the foreign
institutions of the Patriarchate of Moscow. “Catholic churches, that have no
parishioners – the bishop said in an interview on the website of the Russian
Church – are often put at our disposal and the appearance of so many faithful is
due to the help of the Catholic Church, which offers us its facilities for
worship. “

Mark explains that the Russian Orthodox Church has 400
parishes in 52 countries, but stresses that not all communities have their own
church. “For example, in Italy there are 49 parishes, but only some have a
church.” He adds: “The divine services may be celebrated in different places –
he adds – but it is important to build churches”.

The Moscow Patriarchate has undertaken a real campaign of expansion at home and abroad. In
the Russian capital, in April, the mayor Sergei Sobianin gave the green light to
build 200 new churches. The project, recalls the religious information website, is meeting with great resistance from civil society, concerned
with defending the secularism in a State in which the Church has become one of
its greatest allies. According to data from the Patriarchate, the proportion
between the number of churches and Orthodox believers in Moscow is one church
for every 35 thousand inhabitants and in some quarters even every 150 thousand
or 200 thousand inhabitants. The aim is to give every believer a church within
walking distance from home. “Two hundred new churches can not solve the problem
of insufficient places of worship (destroyed under Soviet atheism, ed) – Kirill
said – but the situation will change, because we will have the opportunity to
work among the people.”

For the State the support of the Church, within
the confines of the Federation, is of great help in the perspective of combating
social ills such as alcoholism, ethnic violence and abortion. Abroad, however,
the Patriarchate – according to some analysts – is one of the Kremlin’s tools to
restore its geopolitical influence in the territories of the former USSR and
beyond. According to Mark himself, an Orthodox church is going to be opened in
Cyprus and another is scheduled in Madrid, while a large Orthodox spiritual
center will be built at the foot of the Eiffel tower in Paris. Meanwhile, a
growing number of Orthodox churches will be built in Thailand and also in Great
Britain – Mark continues – where the number of parishioners is increasing and
new communities opening up.

About Fr. Orthohippo

The blog of a retired Anglican priest (MSJ), his musings, journey, humor, wonderment, and comments on today's scene.
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