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Osservatore Romano Newspaper: at the BRICS summit, “there is a strong signal of the group’s readiness to present itself as a system of economic unions alternative to the kind promoted by the West, even if not necessarily in an oppositional spirit.”

President of the World Union of Old Believers Leonid Sevastyanov: “The Holy Father believes that it would be good if the Vatican were granted the observer status in the new BRICS structure.” Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi: multilateralism is the only way to face new challenges.

The media of the Holy See, from the Osservatore Romano to the Vatican News Internet portal, paid great attention to the BRICS group summit that was held in Johannesburg (South Africa). Unlike the Western media that tried to downplay the significance of the event – according to the La Repubblica newspaper, BRICS came together only to “find a way to protect themselves from Western sanctions” – the journalists of the Holy See demonstrated an analytical and very measured approach.

The authoritative Osservatore Romano stressed that the BRICS summit “sends a strong signal of this group’s readiness to act as a system of economic alliances alternative to the kind promoted by the West, even if not necessarily in an oppositional spirit.”

In an analytical article entitled “New Prospects for BRICS,” the newspaper emphasized that the BRICS summit offered “an alternative for the development of the ‘global south,’ but also paid great attention to the development of Africa.” In another editorial titled “BRICS: Xi Jinping and Putin Send a Message to the West,” the publication of the Holy See quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that “the role of BRICS is now essential to building a multipolar world.”

The Internet portal Vatican News followed the work of the summit in Johannesburg on a daily basis. According to journalist Paola Simonetti, “The main global issues, peace and the fight against inequality, were discussed at the BRICS summit table through the lens of what is a new scheme, according to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, for managing international relations – an alternative global model for ‘integration between continents and equal conditions for all.’”

Starting January 2024, BRICS that now includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa will add six more countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates. With “expansion by virtue of six other countries, BRICS will represent 36% of the world’s GDP and 47% of the world’s population,” said Brazilian President Lula da Silva.

Message from Pope Francis to BRICS

Serving as confirmation of the Vatican’s attention and interest in the evolution of BRICS in its current and future policy was an unprecedented message from Pope Francis, who would like to establish permanent contacts with the group. As Leonid Sevastyanov, chairman of the World Union of Old Believers, told news agencies, “The Holy Father believes that it would be good if the Vatican received observer status in the new BRICS structure. The Pontiff believes that it would be interesting if the Vatican entered the BRICS structure with the same observer status that it now enjoys in the UN.”

Sevastyanov emphasized that “from Pope Francis’s viewpoint, giving the Vatican the observer status with BRICS would be a very positive step, since the group includes and will include two Catholic countries – Brazil and Argentina (since 2024 – ed.), and the Catholic factor in the structures of BRICS is of great importance, based on common Christian and universal values.

Chairman of the World Union of Old Believers Leonid Sevastyanov is known for his personal and frequent contacts with Pope Francis. Earlier, the Pontiff entrusted Sevastyanov with the delicate task of making the peace plan for Ukraine known “as widely as possible among the people of Russia.” In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, Sevastyanov stressed that he had a “long-standing relationship” with Pope Francis. “These are the bonds of friendship: he is like a spiritual father to me, even if I am Orthodox,” Sevastyanov said, recalling his personal meeting with Pope Francis 10 years ago. “In 2013, we organized a concert in the Vatican in favor of peace in Syria. It happened in November. Francis did not come to the concert, but the next day he personally invited us to the morning mass. Since then, every time I came to Rome, I visited him, and our relationship intensified until he became a spiritual reference for me. I am Orthodox, but communication with him is a source of endless reflection and human growth,” Sevastyanov told the Messagero newspaper.

The Old Believers are a Russian religious movement that in 1666-1667 opposed the choice of the Orthodox hierarchy of their country, fencing it off in protest against the church reforms of Patriarch Nikon. The Old Believers continued to follow the old customs of the Russian Church that were in force before the reform.

As Sevastyanov noted, the history of the Old Believers “in a certain sense can be defined as the reality of Russian culture, but with strong democratic values, closer to Europe and the West as a whole.”

Cardinal Zuppi: Multilateralism is the Only Way

In a video message quoted by the Italian agency Askanews, at the Fourth Soft Power Conference organized by Francesco Rutelli in Venice on August 28 and 29, Pope Francis’ Special Envoy and President of the IEC (Italian Episcopal Conference – ed.), Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi said that multilateralism is the only way to face new challenges, “I think there is a key word in our reflections – multilateralism. Without it, we are largely orphans, and it is necessary because it is the only way to embody the hard-to-reach understanding that ‘we are all in the same boat.’ This is the great insight of Pope Francis that ‘We are all brothers,’ which must also be taken to a place where it can be understood, discussed, studied, and – why not – even used to make decisions. Rules must be found for such multilateralism that is, in fact, a very difficult phenomenon. Just think of the difficulties in Europe that is obviously multilateral. However, it must come to a synthesis, and it will be difficult to reach such an effective synthesis that can respond to the challenges that if faces, that we all face.”

Giornalisti e Redattori di Pluralia

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