For the 70th anniversary of the russian patriarch Cyrill and for the 80th anniversary of pope Francis, there have been many meetings between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic one.
Card. Parolin and the russian foreign ministry Lavrov, on the 2nd december 2016, met secretly for determining the timing and the political opportunities of an official visit of Pope Francis in Russia, a state visit that, in card. Parolin view, could throw the Catholic Church as the main mediator among the East and the West, mainly with China and Russia, not to forget the indian and central asian interests and geopolitics vis à vis the euro- and the american system.
Card. Parolin never forgets to remember, both to ruling classes and the people, that the European Union is lacking real rayonnement and effective political power, and the cardinal Secretary of State knows very well, as a men of the Church, that only the Roman christianity, in its old relation with the greek and russian tradition, that by the way only the Vatican can build those “bridges” that neither the US nor the EU can build, now, with the ever increasing eastern and asian world.
The “materialistic empires”, as the Frére Charles De Foucauld named them in the early XX century, in our contemporary political situation have not so much appeal, and this happens mainly because of the failing myth of an economic perpetual and continous growth; and now the future asks us to be interpreted in symbols, myths, visions, hopes, even prophecies.
Of course, the Russian patriarch must win many resistencies, both in the community of the believers and in his hyerarchy, as it always happens when centuries of hate and fights come to a possible end, but now the cultural, religious, spiritual and even political climate is the best in many years for an effective relation between the East and Western Churches.
Now, in the russian public opinion, every door is open for the dialogue between the vatican and the Russian orthodox Church.
On the political and strategic side, there is a growing concern for the military pressure of NATO to the russian borders, that recalls of old “cold war” scenarios of war, those at the beginning of the XXI century.
The European union cannot even, and we saw that, the power of elaborate an alternative policy a bit different to the one defined by the United States, with its “unilateral sanctions”, defined against Russian Federations and other countries labelled as the “axis of evil”, and that happens both for the now relevant strategic irrelevance of the EU and for the economic blackmail imposed by Washington.
The “Office for Control of Foreign Assets” had, and I mean this only for an example, has filed the french firm Alstolm, with its business in high velocity trains, and Alstolm could get out of the penalty only selling to an american firm its electric sector to General Electric, in 2014.
BNP Paribas was forced, also in 2014, to pay 9 billions Usd as a fine for transferring due payments to citizens and firms living in countries subject to sanctions by Washington.
We don’t even forget that the german government refused to follow the US “lines” for the new commercial sanctions against the russian government.
The secretary of State in going to deliver antitank up-to-date armour to the government of kiev, and has already put a sum of 410 millions usd for the upgrade of anti-russian commandoes.
This is the real political and social context in which card. Parolin is going to meet the russian political and religoius èlites.
And now, in this psychological and political situation, that russia is going to build a new and culttral and religious identity, made up of traditional zarist and even soviet traditions, with an effective identity of a spiritual superiority from the slavic world in respect to the western, “materialistic” tradition.
We could even imagine that the “nihil” of the western civilization, today, could be better than many other philosophies used even today, nihilism ha the old dignity of a old-fashioned and even noble philosophy.
“future is uncertain, the past is unforesseable”, as an old russian saying tolds.
But now we see the founding of at least 30.000 new orthodox churches, in our last thirty years, 5000 only from 2010, and this marks effectively the renaissance of a slavic-russian new identity, as a new resurrection of the traditional orthodox religious identity.
The dream of Tolstoj is now becoming true.
But now, in Ukrajne and in many towns in the russian south, slavic orthodoxy is usually in contradiction with the the greek tradition, which is growing, and this is the mirror of a complex relation, in the eastern churches, between the closing against Europe and the competing reaffermation of an unity, in the orthodox tradition, of the eurasian culture.
And, even for that, Russia is thinking itself alone. The useless Europe, servant od the USA and now even of China, the unpredictable Trump presidency, the possible and unheard exchange between Usa and Russia, with a reasonable trade for Assad in Sirya and a foreseeable minor pressure in Ukrajne for Russia by the US.
This is the effective geopolitical landscape for the future visit of Card. Parolin in the Russian Federation.
We could define this political line, held by the Vatican, as an old and common term: dialogue.
- E. Card. Parolin goes to Russia, in Pope Francis’ terms, “to wear the garments of the others”.
Card. Parolin wants to understand the “other” and wear their suits, to comprehend his needs, that is his perceived rights, his ideology, his grievancies and rights.
By the way, the old ideologies that retain him to a failed and uneffective past.
In Pope Francis and in card. Parolin view, to held a presence, for the catholic church, in the orthodox traditional areas may have many true meanings: the Pope, as his first line, wants to reunite the eastern world to the Europe, and so to recollect the old line of cultural, religious, cultic traditions that unite the ancient and old members of the “Rus” of Kiev to the eurasiatic peninsula.
Saying it loudly, the Church of Rome knows very well that the progressive, and inevitable, farewell of the Usa from Europe, on e of the most evident results of the end of the “cold war”, and Eu is a slave of a “export economy”, wich is prone to foreign debt, and the Russia Federation could even experiment a strucural economic and political crisis which could even broke its state.
These are the real points that Pope Francis and card. Parolin are treating with the russian government and the orthodox church.
So let’s make the Catholic church the main trait of union between the russian culture, religion and state and, by the way, the eurasian and western world.
Possibly, with its new relation with Rome, Moacow could not be isolated and colud even talk, effectively, with the Usa and the irrelevant UE.
Nil impossibile volenti. And this is the best formula I found for the the trip card. Parolin is going to define with the russia authorities.
And we must know that the the special interest of the catholic church for the russian world is a recent or superficial one.
Card. Parolin reminds us that Zar Nikola I paid his visit to the Pope, then Gregorio XVI, in 1845, aand two years later the same Zar signed an “Accomodamento” with Pope Pius IX.
Now it comes to our memory the idea, explicitated by Pope Giovanni Paolo II, that we must think of an “europe from the atlantic to the urals”.
In a different line from that of Charles De Gaulle, this will be the main line for the next phase of the catholic foreign policy.
The “precarization of every linkage”, which is the main line of thought in theb woeld after the end of the “cold war”, and this may be the root of the old, and creative, idea of a “third war in pieces” , a strange and new panoplia of war by trade, by third parties, by old techniques of “peaceenforcing”.
Following the line of Pope Francis and card. Parolin, wars are mainly decided by incertain geopolitical future, economic and financial tensions, mailny of an illegal nature, cultural and ethnic conflicts, even of a so called “religious nature” to which neither card. Parolin nor the Pope rely any ground.
Even nationalism, that came to Europe after brexit, is not a real problem for Europe.
The Pope and card. Parolin think that nationalism may void the UE from its remaining values, and both think that nationalism may deprive Ue from its remaining value and leave Europe as a sum of uneffective national states.
In the East, in the Orthodox area, the vatican wants to give God to the men and the men to God”, waiting for the complete freedom of the different churches (also in China) and, by the way, the freedom of every religion, either catholic or national or even non-christian ones.
After card. Parolin went to Bielorussia and ukrajne, that shall be one of the main stones for the new really universal church, not referring only to a “western” christian tradition, and playing for a brand new relation between the church and the state, the real, future, game.
GIANCARLO ELIA VALORI
Honorable de l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France