Catholic bishop visit to Russia criticised amid Ukraine crisis

Prayers in Ukraine

A group of French Catholics, including a bishop, have visited Moscow to discuss the defence of the traditional family with Russian Orthodox Church leaders, drawing criticism in France because of the Ukraine crisis, reports The Tablet.

Bayonne Bishop Marc Aillet, who is active in pro-life issues, said these questions were important for the Church, especially with the synod on the family due in October, and Russia’s religious revival since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union had brought them to the fore there.

The group met Metropolitan Hilarion, the 'foreign minister' of the Moscow Patriarchate, along with members of the Russian Church’s commission on the family, and Russian parliamentarians. Bishop Aillet said Matropolitan Hilarion was particularly interested in the 'Demo for All' protests in France against gay marriage and adoption by gay couples.

The six-member group included leaders of pro-life groups Alliance Vita, one of the pillars of the protest movement, and the Foundation Jerome Lejeune. Bishop Aillet stressed it was not an official delegation of the French Church.

Bishop Aillet said the group did not bring up the Ukraine crisis with the Metropolitan, but discussed the fate of Syria’s Christians, of Armenians he said were recently killed by Islamists and 'the ultra-liberalism of the West that frightens but also affects Russia.'

Denis Viénot, secretary-general of the Justice and Peace Commission of the (French) Bishop's Conference, said he was astonished to hear the group had gone to Russia at this time. 'If they think Russia protects the human person, they should go visit Crimea,' he told the French daily La Croix.

FULL STORY French Catholic visit to Russian Orthodox in Moscow criticised (The Tablet)