Russian Orthodox Patriarch Agrees With Pope

Notes Similar Stances With Catholic Church

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MOSCOW, Russia, FEB. 5, 2010 ( Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is affirming that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church stand together on many current social issues.

The Russian Orthodox leader stated this Tuesday while addressing a bishops’ meeting of his Church in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, Interfax reported.

He observed: “We [together with the Roman Catholic Church] have similar positions on many problems facing Christians in the modern world. They include aggressive secularization, globalization, and the erosion of the traditional moral principles.

“It should be noted that on these issues Pope Benedict XVI has taken a stance close to the Orthodox one.”

The patriarch, who celebrated his first anniversary as leader of the Russian Orthodox Church on Monday, added that on the other hand, he is noticing “growing differences with Protestant denominations.”

Recently, the patriarch said, “the Russian Church has seen less Protestant communities cooperating in the cause of preserving the Christian legacy” due to “the relentless liberalization of the Protestant world.”

He continued, “Alas, not only have they failed to conduct a real propagation of the Christian values among the secular society, many Protestant communities prefer to adjust to its standards.” The patriarch made a particular reference to the recent election of a female bishop, Margot Kaessmann, as head of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

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Patriarch Kirill also spoke to the bishops about inter-Orthodox relations, talking in particular about the official visit he made last June to the Church of Constantinople, the Department for External Church Relations reported.

He underlined the significance of that visit, stating: “There are reasons to hope that in those days a new page was opened up in relations between the two patriarchates.

“These relations should not be built in a spirit of rivalry but in an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.”

The patriarch reported that the Moscow Patriarchate has opened 900 new parishes in the last year, and the total number of clerics has grown by 1,500.

The Russian Orthodox Church currently has 30,142 parishes (compared to 29,263 in 2008), 160 dioceses (three more than last year), 207 bishops (an increase from 203), and 32,266 clerics (compared to 30,670 last year).

When the 1000th anniversary of the Christianization, or the baptism, of Russia was celebrated in 1988, the Moscow Patriarchate counted 6,893 parishes, 76 dioceses, 74 hierarchs and 7,397 clerics.

Last week in Novosibirsk, the Catholic prelates met for the 30th plenary session of the bishops’ conference. At that time, they sent congratulations to Patriarch Kirill for the anniversary of his Jan. 27 election.

The prelate stated to the patriarch, “We wish you all the best in your difficult archpastoral ministry, ask for God’s blessing and uplift traditional ‘many years!’ from Catholic bishops of Russia.”

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