Pope Hails Vladimir Soloviev as Pioneer of Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue

Considered One of Russia's Greatest 19th-Century Philosophers

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II presented Vladimir Soloviev, one of the greatest 19th-century Russian philosophers, as a pioneer and example of dialogue between Eastern and Western Christians.

The Pope referred to the philosopher in a message addressed to Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, archbishop major of Lviv of the Ukrainians, so that he could read it at a congress being held in that city on the subject "Vladimir Soloviev, Russia and the Universal Church."

The meeting, organized on the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Russian thinker, gathered Christian intellectuals of various confessions, of both East and West.

The Holy Father expressed the hope that the meeting would provide the opportunity to manifest what he regards as "the duty of Christian communities of the East and West: to listen to the will of Christ in regard to the unity of his disciples."

In the text, published in the Nov. 3-4 Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Pope expressed the hope that the reflection on Soloviev would foster "better understanding between East and West and, in a particular way, the change of all Christians toward full unity in the only flock of Christ."

After being formed in his childhood in Orthodox spirituality, Soloviev (1853-1900) entered into dialogue with Western philosophy. "Disappointed by the incomplete answers that human reflection gave to the anxieties tormenting his heart, in 1872 he returned to the Christian faith of his childhood," the Pope recalled.

Soloviev dedicated the last part of his life to the cause of Christian unity, and suffered from lack of understanding.

He had "the ardent desire that the Churches would" favor "meeting and communion, in which each one contributes the treasures of its tradition, and in which they feel mutually responsible for the faith and ecclesial discipline," the Pope continued.

"The Catholic Church has committed herself in an irreversible way at all levels to achieve this objective," the Pontiff said.