MOSCOW, August 9. /TASS/. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told the Italian Corriere della Sera daily that he expected his upcoming visit to Russia to boost ties between Catholics and Orthodox believers. The senior official, who occupies the second important position in Vatican, is scheduled to visit Moscow on August 20-24.
According to media reports, cardinal Parolin’s preliminary agenda includes meetings with the Russian president and head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
"Yes, the agenda includes meetings with both the Russian president and the patriarch of Moscow [and all Russia]," the Cardinal said when asked about his plans for the visit.
"I hope that my visit will create an opportunity to draw attention to cooperation between our churches and people in light of pressing spiritual, cultural and political issues," Parolin stressed. "I strongly believe that the visit will contribute to strengthening ties, mutual respect and cooperation between Catholics and Orthodox believers," he added.
The visit will be the 62-year-old Italian cardinal’s first trip to Russia.
"After a period of ideological confrontation, which obviously cannot vanish at short notice, and taking into consideration the new scenarios that came to be after the Cold War ended, it is important to take advantage of every opportunity to strengthen mutual respect, dialogue and bilateral cooperation in order to promote peace," the Corriere della Sera daily quoted Parolin as saying.
The cardinal also said that during his visit to Russia, he hoped "to convey the Pope’s spiritual connection to local catholic communities and meet with the highest authorities to discuss bilateral and global issues, including ecumenical contacts."
When asked if Pope Francis himself planned to visit Russia in the future, the Vatican secretary of state noted that his upcoming visit was not intended to pave the way for a papal trip. "However, I hope that with God’s help, through my visit I will be able to contribute to the work in this direction," Cardinal Parolin said.