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Patriarch Kyrill defines the missionary role of Russian Orthodox Civilisation and the extent of possible co-operation with Roman Catholicism

Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus have a special mission in the global arena, according to Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and all the Russias. ‘We (the countries of the Russian Orthodox civilisational sphere (Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and beyond)) have a unique contribution to make to the development of human civilisation’, said the Patriarch at a meeting with Russian diplomats and students of the Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow on Thursday 18 November.

He pointed out that he recently heard statements claiming that moral precepts were only relative matters, saying, ‘Such thinking has resulted in the decline of family values, leading to the legalisation of such immoral behaviour as drug addiction, prostitution and homosexual relations in a number of countries. Our Russian Orthodox Civilisation is called on to halt this devastating trend, to keep mankind from coming to a dead end’.

He emphasised that today there is a deficit of moral values, ‘as has never been seen in international relations. In spite of this, many States have succeeded in building an efficient economy, in promoting a consistent national interest and in strengthening their technological capacity’. However, in his opinion, all these achievements remain those of ‘a giant with feet of clay’ if they are not supported by moral values and a focus on the integrity of the human person, as the recent global crisis has so abundantly illustrated’.

The Patriarch said, ‘Russia has the spiritual and intellectual potential to set itself important tasks, one of which is to change the spiritual and intellectual paradigms which prevail today, including those in international relations’. His Holiness emphasised, ‘in today’s world, no country can assert itself as a major world player without a clear vision of its values, a vision of its ideology of the development of humanity’, and pointed out, ‘a great power is characterised by its ability to defend its people and their traditions, its religious beliefs and its cultural values, these moral stands being the foundation of society’.

Speaking of the importance of the integration processes within the countries of the Russian Civilisational Sphere, Patriarch Kyrill noted the example of the Moscow Patriarchate, which actively ministers to the Russian-speaking diaspora in foreign countries and which has established a bilateral working group between the Patriarchal Department for External Church Relations and the Foreign Ministry of Belarus. He expressed hopes that there would be a similar growth in the interaction of the Church with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

18 November 2010

At the same meeting, the Patriarch said that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican, despite the difficulties in their relationship, can interact effectively in several areas. ‘Together with Roman Catholics, we stand together in facing aggressive secular liberalism, in defence of the traditional Christian understanding of family values and human life. We present a united front against certain sorts of medical-biological experimentation, as so much of it is not compatible with a proper respect for human dignity’. In his view, co-operation between the Russian Orthodox Church and Roman Catholics is developing in several directions, mostly due to the outlook of the Pope of Rome, Benedict XVI. ‘Since 1980, we have engaged in a theological dialogue, in which we, together with other Orthodox Churches, discussed the points that divide us, primarily, the role of the Bishop of Rome and the problem of Uniatism, but there are many other differences’, said His Holiness.

Patriarch Kyrill does not believe that this dialogue can be smooth, saying, ‘We cannot quickly resolve problems that have divided the Christian East and West for over a millennium. Nevertheless, we need a thorough theological analysis of what happened, and, most importantly, we must examine our understanding of history, because very often our understanding of history is, in itself, a reason to maintain the division’. His Holiness expressed concern about developments in a number of Protestant communities, regarding liberalisation in the field of theology and Christian morality. Indeed, some Protestant communities have blessed same-sex ‘marriage’ and the ordination of practising homosexuals to the clergy.

18 November 2010

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