Naples Cardinal Visits Alexy II

Patriarch Notes Hope for Developing Relations

( The archbishop of Naples and other Church leaders are on an official visit to Moscow at the invitation of Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe left for Russia Tuesday, accompanied by Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia, president of the Italian bishops’ Ecumenism Commission, and Andrea Riccardi, the director of the Sant’Egidio Community, the bishops’ SIR news agency reported.

Today the cardinal presented Alexy II with a letter from Benedict XVI and a relic of St. Januarius, a Neapolitan martyr of the third century particularly venerated by the Orthodox.

Alexy II affirmed that “the shared sense of the Christian mission brings the Russian Orthodox Church near to the Diocese of Naples.” He offered “the hope of a development in the relationship with the Catholic Church.”

For his part, Cardinal Sepe affirmed that both Christian communities “should work together courageously to bring the soul back to our Europe: From this soul flows hope for the future of our peoples, and charity in the face of the suffering of the modern world.”

This visit is taking place after interreligious celebrations in Naples promoted by the Sant’Egidio Community. The series of events was inaugurated by the Pope in October 2007.

On that occasion, Cardinal Sepe donated the Naples church of St. Mary of a Holy Death to the Russian Orthodox community. The keys were presented to Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the president of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The archbishop and auxiliary bishops of Milan, as well as 80 of their priests, also made a pilgrimage to Russia to visit Alexy II in August.