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Alexy II Calls for Catholic-Orthodox Cooperation. Russian Patriarch Laments Anti-Christian Trends in Europe
MOSCOW, JUNE 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II appealed to Catholics and Orthodox to address together the "negative anti-Christian tendencies" present in Europe.

The patriarch made his plea Tuesday when meeting with Pier Ferdinando Casini, president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

In his exhortation, reported by Vatican Radio, the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia presented one of the "crucial" challenges that Catholics and Orthodox must address together: to bring Christian values back to Europe.

Alexy II criticized the "absurd tolerance" that in a secular Europe virtually "impedes Christian from making public profession of their own values."

"It is strange that in a society that presents itself as free, Christians are impeded from expressing the faith freely," lamented the patriarch, who explained to Casini that he followed closely the case of Rocco Buttiglione, Italian candidate for European Commissioner who was "persecuted because he thought in a different way."

"Second-class"

Buttiglione was Italy's nominee to the European Union's executive commission. He stood down last year after he was sharply attacked by Europarliamentarians and the press for his traditional Catholic views about the sinfulness of homosexual acts.

Alexy II said that he counts very much on Benedict XVI to work together "against violence, egoism and moral relativism."

The president of the Italian Chamber summarized his conversation with the patriarch saying that "that there is great fear that, in the new Europe, Christians will be considered as second-class citizens."

Moreover, Alexy II pointed out "the opportunity lost by the European Constitution, in which there is no specific reference to the Christian identity," reported Vatican Radio.