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December 2, 2009

Moscow Patriarchate Publishes Book of Pope's Words

Called Proof of Possible Catholic-Orthodox Cooperation

ROME, DEC. 1, 2009 ( The Russian Orthodox Church has published a book in Italian and Russian with texts from Benedict XVI on the culture of Europe.

This is the first time the Moscow Patriarchate is publishing a compilation of texts from a Pope. It is titled "Europe, Spiritual Homeland," and includes addresses by Joseph Ratzinger during the course of more than a decade.

The presentation of the book will take place Wednesday in Rome during a round table on "The Role of the Churches in the Cultural Integration of Europe."

The volume will be introduced by the chairman of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev.

"This book is an event of unprecedented historic scope in the millennial history of Catholics and Russian Orthodox," explained the editor of the book, Pierluca Azzaro. "But before and above all, it is a great testimony of love of Christ and between Christians. From this love springs -- should spring -- European culture in all its manifold expressions: a living culture, imbued with an authentically creative moral energy, all together geared to the building of a good future for all."

The editor reflected on the way the volume presents the continent.

"Europe -- the Pope, and Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk in the beautiful introduction, tell us -- is a cultural continent that with its two wings, the Church of the East and of the West, rises above the narrow duality Russia-Western Europe," he said. "Europe is thus presented to our eyes as the common 'spiritual homeland,' according to the beautiful expression used by the Pope in his last journey to the Czech Republic."

Azzaro contended that only by jointly rediscovering and reaffirming this "vital dimension of Europe" will a "downward decline" be warded off.

A vice-chairman of the patriarchate's department of external affairs, Hieromonk Philip (Riabykh), said the book is a "testimony of the absolute identity of views and positions between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church in regard to modern social processes."

He added that it is "at the same time proof of the enormous possibility of Catholic-Orthodox cooperation."