On 13 February 2019, an annual session of the Joint Working Group for Cultural Cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church took place at the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Representing the Russian Orthodox Church were Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, DECR chairman; Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porkhov, chairman of the Patriarchal Council for Culture; Hieromonk Pavel (Scherbachev), vice-chairman of the Patriarchal Council for Culture; Hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), DECR secretary for inter-Christian relations; Rev. Alexy Dikarev, DECR staff member; Hieromonk Pavel (Cherkasov), acting vice-rector for education at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute of Postgraduate Studies; and Mr. Alexei Puzakov, artistic director of the Moscow Synodal Choir.
Taking part in the meeting on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church were Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation; Rev. Carlo Casalone, staff member of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Rev. Hyacinthe Destivelle, staff member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Rev. Kirill Gorbunov, representative of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow; and Mr. Pyotr Gumenyuk, staff member of the Aid to the Church in Need Foundation.
As Metropolitan Hilarion noted, opening the session, this year the Joint Working Group for Cultural Cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church holds its fifth meeting since its establishment in 2015. Over these years the working group demonstrated its efficiency in organizing various joint cultural events both in Russia and in Italy, helping people learn more about the spiritual traditions of the Churches of the East and the West and promoting mutual understanding between the Orthodox and Catholic Christians.
The participants in the session summed up the working group’s activities for the past year and discussed a number of new projects due to be carried out in 2019 and early 2020, such as concerts of religious music, exhibitions, joint conferences, presentations of books and the annual Summer Institute.