Polish and Russian Churches sign historic appeal for reconciliation
August 20, 2012
Patriarch of Moscow Kirill I and Archbishop Jozef Michalik sign a historic appeal
The heads of Poland's Catholic church and the Russian Orthodox church have signed an unprecedented joint address to Poles and Russians urging reconciliation between their nations during the first visit by the head of the Russian church to Poland.
"We appeal to the faithful to ask for forgiveness of past wrongs, injustices and all the evil done to each other," said a document signed by Poland's Archbishop Jozef Michalik and Kirill I, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, during a ceremony at Warsaw's Royal Castle,
"Every Pole should see a friend and brother in every Russian, and every Russian should see a friend and brother in every Pole," the joint text said. It added: "We are certain that this is the first and the most important step toward rebuilding mutual trust, which is a necessary part of a lasting community and full reconciliation between people."
The signing of the document is expected to help create a new opening in relations between Poland and Russia, which have been divided by politics and religion for centuries.
The four-day visit by Patriarch Kirill follows three years of talks between the two churches, whose mutual relations have been tense.
The Russian Orthodox Church has frequently accused Roman Catholic priests of trying to convert believers in Russia and Ukraine. It prevented the late Pope John Paul II, who wanted reconciliation between the two Churches, from visiting Russia.
Kirill I started a historic four-day visit to Poland
on Thursday with a meeting with Polish bishops and President Bronislaw Komorowski.