Media Watch

Vatican Seeks End to Rift with Orthodox

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct. 31— The split between the Catholic and Orthodox churches is almost as old as Christianity itself, but there have been recent signs of healing, the Associated Press reported.

The Vatican has even expressed hope that Pope John Paul II might yet become the first pope to visit Russia.

The Holy Father has taken a great interest in the ecumenical project, seeking through a series of gestures to dispel the mistrust of centuries between West and East. In August, he returned the icon of Our Lady of Kazan to Russia, and this month he will return the relics of St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory of Nazianzus (removed during the Crusades) to the Orthodox patriarch in Istanbul.

Patriarch Alexy II wrote the Pope, “I believe that your decision to return the icon shows your sincere desire to overcome the difficulties existing between our churches.” Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Walls told the AP, “The climate seems to be changing.”

The Great Schism of 1054 resulted from differences over the wording of the Nicene Creed and the Orthodox refusal to accept the supremacy of the papacy. Under the tsars and communism, Catholics were severely persecuted in Russia. There are approximately 600,000 Catholics in Russia today, about 0.4% of the population.

Pope Prays for Victims of Terrorism

ASIANEWS, Nov. 1 — Pope John Paul II marked the feasts of All Saints and All Souls with an invocation on behalf of terrorism victims.

Speaking to the multitude assembled in St. Peter's Square Nov. 1, the Pope declared, “Under the bright lights of this wonderful mystery, the annual commemoration of all the faithful departed will take place tomorrow. The liturgy invites us to broaden our hearts and pray for all of them, especially for the souls who need divine mercy the most.”

Added John Paul, “I raise a special prayer to God for all the victims of terrorism. I feel spiritually close to their families. As I ask the Lord to make their pain more bearable, I invoke his name that peace may come into the world.”

Montreal Oratory Awarded Rare Golden Rose

MONTREAL GAZETTE, Oct. 30 — St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal was honored by Pope John Paul II with the award of a Golden Rose — only the second given to a church on this continent, the Montreal newspaper noted.

The ornamental rose of pure gold, one of 180 awarded since 1088, was presented by apostolic nuncio Luigi Ventura to Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal at a televised Mass Oct. 17 celebrating the commencement of St. Joseph's centenary. Archbishop Ventura said the award “communicates the deep sentiments of the Pope” and is “an exceptional sign of honor” for a “celebrated place of prayer,” Catholic News Agency reported.

The Oratory is the largest church in Canada and the world's largest shrine to St. Joseph, Canada's patron saint. It was founded in 1904 by the Blessed Andre Bessette, a brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, to whose intercession many miracles have been attributed.