In Russia for Church unity and for peace (1960)


In August 1959, La Pira went to Moscow, the first Roman Catholic intellectual to be officially invited to the Soviet Union, and had a series of meetings at high level and of great importance. Here, he gives his report to the convents which had accompanied his delicate journey with their prayers.

He announced to Metropolitan Nicola that he had … come as the “Marian bridge of prayer” between Fatima and Moscow, the Churches of East and West, at the very celebration of the Assumption because the Assumption is mysteriously linked to the apparitions (Lourdes, Fatima, etc.) and, similarly to the Resurrection of Christ, is the very basis of the mystery of the history of the Church and of peoples. 

In his meeting with Soviet leaders in the Kremlin, La Pira insisted on the need to get rid of state atheism once and for all: ... Thus will your peoples remember (rather, they are already in the process of remembering) the beauty, peace and the joy of the home of their birth (the mystical home of their baptism and prayer) and they will return to it! And they will bring joy to their heavenly father.

From the weeping on the banks of the rivers of Babylon they will remember Jerusalem, far off and destroyed, and they will weep and they will take the road of return with joy in their hearts! 

The message that concludes the letter is a rhetorical question on faith and the effectiveness of prayer:

The question, therefore, is this: in the design of God what is the efficacy of this immense power of prayer and suffering set within the present-day phase of east-west relations? What mysterious historical validity does this bridge possess, built on the day of the Assumption between the two banks of Christianity east and west?