Magazine article The Christian Century

Pope's Icon Return Lifts Hope of Church Detente

Magazine article The Christian Century

Pope's Icon Return Lifts Hope of Church Detente

Article excerpt

Russian Orthodox church leaders have welcomed Pope John Paul II's decision to return a precious icon to Russia, a representation of Mary and child that was handed over in Moscow in late August by a Catholic delegation.

"We very much value the fact that the Vatican is returning this miraculous icon to our church," said Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexsy II. "If we want Christian values to remain alive and Europeans to be guided by the gospel in life, we must work together." The Orthodox leader was speaking amid preparations to receive the icon, Our Lady of Kazan, in the Kremlin's Dormition Cathedral.

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, the head of Russia's Catholic minority, said he hoped the gesture would improve relations between the Orthodox and Roman churches, which have been strained in recent years.

The icon depicting the Madonna and child is said to be an early 18th-century copy rather than the original, thought by some to date back to the 13th century but now lost. The original icon has been credited with working miracles on behalf of the Russian people, including the defeat of several invading forces. …

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