Patriarch Kirill to Francis: "A dialogue between religious leaders can bear fruit"

From Rome

On the occasion of his 10-year pontificate, pope francis received this Monday March 13 dozens of messages of congratulations of the most diverse origins. But one of them caused more impression, since the pontiff asked as an anniversary gift, not a cake with candles or anything similar, but “peace.” And this message comes from Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, whom the Pope met in Cuba in 2016 and with whom he has tried to encourage contacts since the war broke out in Ukraine. a year ago, but without much success.

“In these difficult times, a dialogue between religious leaders can bear fruit. and contribute to unify the efforts of people of good will to heal the wounds of God’s creation”, Kirill wrote, also highlighting the contribution made by Francis to interreligious relations, published the Russian agency Tass. According to the European press, Kirill has a close religious-political relationship with Vladimir Putin and this would have hampered his relationship with the Pope.

Francisco has expressed his willingness to go to kyiv and Moscow several times – the last time last Saturday – to discuss peace in Ukraine, but the leadership of both countries never gave their approval. “I go to both places or to neither of the two,” the Pope stressed. The Russian agency Ria Novosti, on the other hand, published the words of the Russian government spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, about the possibility of a trip by the Pope. “We must wait for a statement from the Vatican,” he said.

In addition to the Italian and European episcopal conferences, Francis received congratulatory messages from representatives of different political parties on the peninsula such as the Democratic Party, Forza Italia and the Five Star Movement and representatives of other religions such as the Orthodox Patriarch Bartolomeo I in addition to Kirill.


The Vatican media, such as the Vatican News agency, broadcast on Monday what they called the “Popecast”, that is, a podcast with recorded phrases of the Pontiff that offer a synthetic look at these ten years of pontificate. “The first word that comes to mind is that it seems like yesterday,” Francisco says at the beginning. ”Time is in a hurry. And when you want to grab today it’s already yesterday. And if you want to grab tomorrow, it hasn’t arrived yet. (…) Living like this is something new. And I think these ten years have been like this (…) A tension. live in tension

One of the most beautiful memories he has of his pontificate is the meeting with grandparents from all over the world, on September 28, 2014 in the Vatican. “The elders are wisdom and they help me a lot,” he said. But also he spoke of the wars and the pains he felt while visiting the World War I cemetery in Redipuglia (north of Italy) and another from World War II at Anzio, not far from Rome.

He also recalled the war in Syria and the war in Ukraine. “Behind the wars is the arms industry, this is diabolical,” Francisco stressed. And about what to ask for as a gift for this anniversary he said: “Peace, we need peace.”


Francisco did not want to make big celebrations for his tenth anniversary. He limited himself to celebrating a mass this morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence, where he lives, to which he invited all the cardinals who live in Rome. And to the cardinals he said: “Never retire. I always need your advice” and gave them the book that another Jesuit, Father Antonio Spadaro, wrote about him, entitled “L’Atlante di Francesco. Il Vaticano e la politica internazionale” (The atlas of Francis. The Vatican and international politics) (Ed Feltrinelli).

The book was presented to the public in the afternoon, at the magazine’s headquarters civilta cattolicaIn addition to the author, the Vatican Secretary of State (number two of the Holy See) Pietro Parolin and the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni were present. Meloni had already sent a message to Francis on Twitter: “We thank you for being a strong, respectable guide and a point of reference for the Catholic Church. His words help us reflect on the great issues of our time,” he wrote. And during the book presentation he stressed that he considered the Holy See to be the most suitable to negotiate peace between Ukraine and Russia because the Holy See has no specific interests in the region. For her part, Parolin stressed that “the Holy See acts favoring dialogue even when someone who is uncomfortable is present in the dialogue”(…) The only realistic solution to the threat of war is negotiation”, for this reason the Holy Headquarters “dialogue with everyone,” he stressed.


Luis Narvaja Bergoglio, nephew of Pope Francis and a Jesuit like him, who often travels to Italy for work and visits his uncle, recalled in various statements to the Italian press his experience with Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a person, he said, with a great “intellectual curiosity” and who loved cinema, theater and sports. “When we were kids we liked to be with him because he was nice and funny and he took us for a ride in his Renault 4.”

But he also told an interesting fact about the period of the military dictatorship in Argentina. “Once, when I was 12 years old, my mother told us: let’s go find a friend of uncle’s to take him to the airport. My sister was very happy, she asked if her uncle would also be there, but my mother said that she would not. Then a man came up and got into the car. We take him to the airport. Some time later we learned that my uncle had given this man his passport so that he could flee Argentina. And he had dressed like my uncle, as a priest”.

the press

The 10 years of Francis’ pontificate appeared on Monday throughout the Italian but also European press, clearly showing in their headlines the tendency of each medium in relation to the Pope.

“Ten years of Francis, the pope of surprises from the end of the world”, headlined the Italian newspaper The stamp from Turin. Il Messaggero of Rome, titled for his part: “Pope Francis, 10 years as pontiff. Bergolio’s last break refers to the celibacy of priests. In effect, the title refers to comments by the Pope that came out yesterday and in which he declared himself open to discussing the possibility of marriage for priests. Il Fatto Quotidiano, a Rome newspaper, published an interview with the Pope that he titled with his words: “Corruption makes me suffer. You can’t cover pedophilia anymore.” Republic, one of the most widely distributed newspapers in Italy, preferred to make a video with the 10 most important events of the Pope in these ten years. Among them appears Pope Francis’ visit to the island of Lampedusa in July 2013, a place famous for the number of migrants who arrive or die off its coasts crossing the Mediterranean. Another event included was the family synod held in 2014 and where divorcees and gay couples were discussed and also the meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Cuba in 2016, the complicated trip to Chile (2018) due to the discoveries regarding abuse sexual relations, the synod on the Amazon in 2019 and the trip to Iraq in 2021.

In France Le Figaro titled: “10 years of a contrasted pontificate.” AND Liberation: “10 years of pontificate and small reforms”. The newspaper abc of Spain titled: “Francisco, a decade adjusted to the roadmap”. While The vanguard of Barcelona put: “The decade of Francis, the pope who has changed the Church” and The country He preferred to publish a note from his correspondent in Buenos Aires that he titled: “Francisco, the Latin American Pope who does not return to his land.”

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