Envoy says Orthodox-Catholic unity unlikely

A complete holy communion between Orthodox believers and Catholics is very unlikely, Russian Orthodox Church Representative to European International Organizations, Archbishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, said in an interview with the newspaper Soyuznoye Veche of the Russia-Belarus Union Parliamentary Assembly.

"I think we should not expect the complete unity of Orthodox and Catholic rites. The division occurred almost 1,000 years ago and it can hardly be repaired," he said.

New head of Moldavia and Bucovina Orthodox church

The ceremony was attended by Orthodox Patriarch Daniel, President Traian Basescu and thousands of people. The new head of Moldavia and Bucovina Metropolitan Church, Teofan, in his inauguration speech yesterday, talked about the mission ahead of him and called on all hierarchs and priests inside the church to help local communities.

"If you do not do this, you will lose everything you have obtained in life and your wisdom will remain in vain," he told clerics present. Teofan also spoke about the special mission of his church in relation with Basarabia. "The church of Moldavia and Bucovina has a special responsibility in its relation with Basarabia and, with God's help, will continue to do its work with a lot of courage," he said.

Italian arrested at St. Petersburg airport trying to smuggle out icons

An Italian citizen was arrested trying to smuggle two icons out of St. Petersburg, the Northwestern Customs Department said on Monday. "Icons of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker and Our Lady of Tikhvin were found in the Italian's luggage. He tried to use the green corridor and declared nothing. The Italian did not have permission to take out the cultural valuables," the department said. A criminal case may be opened on contraband charges.

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The Orthodox ideal of unity may become the basis of Russia's political system

The Moscow Patriarchate believes that ideals of people's unity pursued by the Orthodox Church for years are still important for the country. "The society created on this basis is more efficient than any social environment or state riven by conflicts and controversy, and increasingly turning from manageable into unmanageable state," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, said at XII St. Petersburg International Economy Forum.

Cardinal Bertone to visit Belarus

Secretary of State of His Holiness the Pope Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will visit for the first time Belarus at the invitation of the Belarusian government on June 18.

"State Secretary of Pope Benedict XVI Bertone will visit Belarus on June 18 - 22 at the invitation of the Belarusian government," Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Minsk and Mogilyov, told a news conference in Minsk on Thursday. The program of the visit provides for meetings with Belarusian authorities, as well as religious figures.

The Shroud of Turin, the burial linen of Jesus, on exposition in the spring of 2010

The Shroud of Turin, a cloth widely believed to be the burial linen of Jesus, will be put on exposition in the spring of 2010, announced Benedict XVI.

The Pope divulged the news today upon receiving in audience some 7,000 faithful from the Archdiocese of Turin. Prior to the audience, Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, had celebrated Mass for the pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica.