mercoledì 1 dicembre 2021

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher about rapprochement between the two churches. Interview for Croatian Catholic Weekly “Glas Koncila”

(Ivan Tašev, Glas Koncila)  There is a history that needs to be challenged and confronted and I’m ultimately very optimistic. We view very positively the signs and the comments of the new patriarch Porfirije
What does your presence mean for the Church and Catholics who are a minority in Serbia? How to interpret your arrival and visit?
I came here because I was invited a long time ago by Mr Ivica Dačić, and the new Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs renewed this invitation so I came. Apostolic Nuncio to Serbia Archbishop Luciano Suriani, when msgr Fabijan Svalina was appointed for bishop coadjutor in Srijem, thought the two things could be combined – visit to the state authorities and participating in this Church event. As I have seen, it’s a very Balkan event. Bishops from Croatia, Serbia and other countries are here. That is very good for us because it gives us the opportunity to share our closeness to the Balkans, Church in the Balkans and particularly here in Serbia, but also to share our concerns about the region. The fact is that we believe there is much to be done, we pick up that there are voices of concern, things could go in the right direction, and could things be encouraged. My presence here is both church and ecclesial to support the new coadjutor bishop and also to make contact with the other bishops and the local Church and also to have contact with the Serbian authorities who, we must say, are looking for a closer collaboration with the Holy See. We want to put that in the context of our general concerns on the western Balkan and all the challenges this region faces.
Can we put in context your visit to Serbia and your visit to Russia a week ago? Is there anything in common in that?
This was a good trip as well. It is always important to maintain dialog open with countries that maybe you don’t always see eye to eye but we realize their significant pledge. You can’t ignore people. I think that what we have been trying to do in these various visits, and there will be others as well, is to understand these are regions of the world which are, despite of the progress made, remain essentially quite fragile. Therefore they need support, they need encouragement and we believe that the Church and the Holy Father in particular can offer encouragement. And that is what I said to the bishops in Serbia. As far as I’m concerned this visit is a success if they feel some encouragement is being offered to them.
In your sermon at the ordination mass of msgr Svalina, you said that the relationship between the Catholic Church in Croatia and the Serbian Orthodox Church significantly affects the overall relations between the two Churches. How do you see those relationships?
I’m going to have dinner tonight with the patriarch. That obviously is a good sign and we believe that there is a dialog that needs to go on and needs to go forward. There is a history that needs to be challenged and confronted and I’m ultimately very optimistic. We view very positively the signs and the comments of the new patriarch and also I can say that the Holy Father has great respect and esteem for him ad considers him already a brother within the universal Christian Church.
What role does Croatia play in this - its faithful, but also pastor bishops?
I think obviously there is a path to take, and that is the path of reconciliation. We need to obviously look at the shared history of the region. We need to reinforce our identity above all as Christians and interpret history, the present and the future in the light of the will of Christ. That is the thing that really matters. There are a lot of the other things such as wounds, there is contested history, and there are many other problems. In the end, what matters for the Disciples of Christ, is to do his will.