Just under two weeks ago Russian officials accepted the credentials of Archbishop Antonio Mennini as the first papal nuncio to their country. The event ushers in a new era of full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Russian Federation.
The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) newspaper reported that Foreign Affairs minister Sergei Lavrov met with Archbishop Mennini on July 15 in Moscow to seal full diplomatic relations, which Pope Benedict XVI and president Dmitry Medvedev had agreed to last December. Just a month ago, on June 26, the Holy See accepted the credentials of Mr. Nikolai Sadlichov as ambassador from Russia.
The Russian vice minister for foreign affairs, Alexandr Krusko, welcomed the nuncio on behalf of President Dmitry Medvedev and highlighted the increasing "spirit of harmony and cooperation" between the Holy See and Russia in recent years, according to LOR.
The Vatican paper added that "the vice minister hoped for an even more fruitful collaboration on the great moral and ethical challenges that are posed to man today."
During the ceremony, Archbishop Mennini assured his dedication to the strengthening of relations between the two sides and his commitment to the "spiritual and moral growth of the people of Russia."
The Holy See and Russia have maintained limited diplomatic relations since 1990, after the fall of the USSR, but had not formally exchanged ambassadors until now. The decision was made on Dec. 3, 2009, when, after meeting with the Pope at the Vatican, President Medvedev asked his Foreign Affairs department to pursue full diplomatic ties for the first time.