Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi and Auxiliary Bishops Carlo Redaelli and Giulio Brambilla left for Russia today for a pilgrimage that will last through Saturday.
They will visit cathedrals and monasteries, and participate in both Catholic and Orthodox liturgies. In addition to Alexy II, they will also be received by Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of the Mother of God Archdiocese in Moscow.
The Milan priests will participate in the Divine Liturgy of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, over which the patriarch will preside in the Kremlin's Cathedral of the Dormition.
In a letter to all his diocesan priests, Cardinal Tettamanzi explained that the idea of this pilgrimage was conceived after his 2006 visit to Moscow and the invitation of the patriarch.
Reflecting on the Orthodox liturgy of that occasion, the cardinal said he remembered especially "the spiritual emotions experienced."
"It is almost an experience of ecstasy that arises, for example, with the prolonged listening to Russian liturgical singing," he said. "These moments were like a foretaste of the beatific vision and the communion of saints."
Cardinal Tettamanzi said he hopes the pilgrimage experience "might contribute to enhance mutual knowledge and the desire for unity."
He also explained to his diocesan priests that "to be pilgrims, means to try to enter into the spirit of the Christian East and to begin to breathe, as John Paul II so dreamed, also with that lung of Christianity."
"With emotion I say that I hope the day will soon come when the patriarch of Moscow will be able to embrace the Successor of Peter," he added.
Cardinal Tettamanzi also expressed his hope that the patriarch will be able to visit Italy to venerate the relics of St. Nicholas, a saint who enjoys a traditional devotion in Russia, and also to attend celebrations for the 1,700th anniversary of the promulgation of the Edict of Milan, approved by Constantine in 313.
"During the visit in 2006 and in a subsequent letter," the cardinal explained, "Patriarch Alexy II expressed his interest and support in promoting a meeting in Milan in the year 2013 between Christian leaders," which would aim to jointly emphasize the importance of religious liberty.
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.
The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.