Pope Thanks Russian Orthodox for Book

Vatican Plans to Return the Gesture

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing gratitude to the Russian Orthodox Church and all those who collaborated in publishing a book with texts from the Pontiff on European culture.



The book, "Europe, Spiritual Homeland," marks the first time the Moscow Patriarchate is publishing a compilation of texts from a Pope. It contains addresses that Joseph Ratzinger wrote over the past decade regarding Europe.

The presentation of the work, which was published in Russian and Italian, took place Wednesday in Rome in connection with the Italian-Russian Civil Society Dialogue Forum. A message from the Holy Father, sent through his Secretariat of State, was read at the event.

It affirmed Benedict XVI's gratitude "for the devout and significant gesture, toward all those who have contributed, and for the sentiments that gave rise to it."

Pierluca Azzaro, professor of politics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, and the book's editor, announced that the Vatican Publishing House now plans to publish a book by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and of All Russia titled, "Liberty and Responsibility in the Search of Harmony" ("Liberta e Responsabilita alla Ricerca dell'Armonia).

The book will be presented next April at that university in Milan, in the presence of the chairman of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk.

At Wednesday's presentation, the Italian minister of culture, Sandro Bondi, affirmed that the newly published book shows how "the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are great sources of meaning, sources of the spiritual bread that man needs to live, so much more than material bread."

The Russian minister of culture, Mikhail Shvydkoi, said that "without the values of Christian humanism, Europe is lost."

Integrating worship

He added, "This book speaks to us of the importance of integrating into Europe the different ways in which one can and must honor the presence of God in society."

"Europe, Spiritual Homeland" affirms that "it is possible to honor God in society without the plurality of creeds and confessions of Europe becoming a reason for conflict," the Russian said.

Lorenzo Ornaghi, rector of the Sacred Heart university, pointed out that this volume indicates clearly the path to be followed so that a truly creative culture will again be able to make Europe flourish.

"Faith is the source of a living culture and of life, that which most corresponds with man's truest desires," he said.

Jesuit Father Milan Zust, secretary of the Catholic committee for cultural collaboration with Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that the book is "a most important step for building that trust and mutual esteem that makes clear and limpid our common witness in Europe."