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Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia said the positions of the Orthodox and Catholic churches coincide on many issues
Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia said the positions of the Orthodox and Catholic churches coincide on many issues. In his meeting with French Catholic bishops on Wednesday, Alexy II said the coincidence of the positions by the Orthodox and Catholic Churches on many issues “proves of effective cooperation between them (the churches)”. In his view, the Orthodox and Catholics “jointly come against abortions, euthanasia and homosexual marriages” that run counter Christian values. “The French Catholic Bishops' Conference was one of the sides that organised my visit to your country. We are very grateful for this. I see in it one more step towards developing cooperation between the Orthodox and Catholics in preaching traditional Christian values,” the patriarch said. In his words, “The base of such cooperation is the coincidence of the positions of our Churches on many issues that the present-day world raises. Our views are close in public and personal moral, the public mission of believers, family values, bioethics and many other problems.” “We jointly come against abortions, euthanasia, homosexual marriages and other similar phenomena of the present-day world that run counter Christian ideology,” Alexy II stressed. “The coincidence of our stances is not accidental. We have common roots based on ancient Apostle traditions of Christianity. This is the fundamental of our effective cooperation,” the patriarch said. He recalled that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Rome Catholic Church have the examples of successful interaction. “Our representatives to European institutions in Strasbourg, Brussels and to the U.N. in New York jointly work in order to make the voice of Christianity to sound convincingly and powerfully all around the world,” he said. Alexy II said he praises contribution made by the Local Orthodox Church to Christianity. “Each eparchy, which represents any church in France, is designed to take part in a direct and fruitful dialogue with local authorities and the secular society, and with representatives of other Christian churches,” the patriarch noted. The meeting involved Metropolitan Emmanuel of France and Archbishop Gabriel of Comana (Patriarchate of Constantinople), Bishop Juha of France and Western Europe (Serbian Orthodox Church) and Metropolitan Joseph (Romanian Church). The Russian Orthodox Church was represented by six hierarchs – Archbishop Innokentii of Korsun, who leads the Russian Orthodox Church parishes in France, Archbishop Feofan of Berlin and Germany, Bishop Ilarion of Vienna and Austria. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was represented by Bishop Mikhail of Geneva and Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe, and Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart. Metropolitan Emmanuel thanked Alexy II for his invitation to take part in the prayer service at the Cathedral of Three Saintly Hierarchs and for his support for the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of France. Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia was met at the Cathedral of Three Saintly Hierarchs with an offering of flowers, bread and salt. The prayer service with the participation of Alexy II made a good start to the patriarch’s visit to Paris. “It is a great honour and excessive joy for us today to accept the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia,” Archbishop Innokentii of Korsun said. “This unforgettable day opens a new page in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in France,” he stressed. In his words, France granted asylum to many immigrants in the difficult times. “Then it was not easy to take a decision in order to preserve the Church’s unity,” he noted. “Initially, the prayer house was placed at the car park’s underground storeroom. Then parishioners could build this church at their own expenses. May the founders of the town church hope that the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia will come here,” the archbishop said. “We are convinced that irrespective their church jurisdiction many compatriots would be glad to share this joyful event jointly with us,” the archbishop stressed. “Your arrival gives peace and graceful spirit of union in the period of restoration that is linked with the name of Your Holiness,” Archbishop Innokentii told the patriarch. “Your visit will give a new life to our eparchy,” he said by donating him the icon of Paris’ patrons – St. Dionysius, St. Germanus and Venerable Genevieve. Alexy II thanked parishioners and presented the Korsun archbishop the icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir. He also thanked Archbishop Innokentii for his works as chairman of the commission for the restoration of canonical unity within the Russian Orthodox Church and awarded him the second-class Order of St. Vladimir. “I entered this saint cathedral with special feelings. I am grateful that God gave me an opportunity to visit this church,” Alexy II said. The patriarch spoke with fervour about those who “put a light to their faith 75 years ago in order to help anyone see the light of Orthodoxy”. “The founders of this cathedral gave Western Europe rich traditions of theology and icon painting. Their works helped many natives of this country come to Orthodoxy,” Alexy II said. In addition, the patriarch said, “It is time to think of building a new church that would worthy represent the Russian Orthodox Church.” “The laity is growing and the cathedral cannot contain all parishioners,” the patriarch said. “That is why it is necessary to build the new church,” he said. Addressing parishioners, Alexy II said the restoration of canonical unity within the Russian Orthodox Church “is the first step towards strengthening Orthodoxy in other countries”. “I’m grateful that God helps us restore unity when all reasons for schism among immigrants disappeared,” the patriarch said. He said he is hopeful that “those who did not establish canonical relations with the Church due to old-dated views on Mother of the Church will also take part in this”. The patriarch greeted Orthodox hierarchs who represent the Church of Constantinople, the Serbian and Romanian Churches. He called for “building up the unity of Holy Orthodoxy by following special traditions”. “This problem should be solved by each Orthodox church. The unity should not be implanted artificially, but it may occur through people’s communication and interaction,” Alexy II stressed. The patriarch wished all participants in the prayer service to increase the faith and brotherly affection”. The patriarch’s visit to France is completing the solemn celebrations devoted to the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church. Since September 1 the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church and the choir of the Sretensky Monastery have visited Russian churches all around the world. The choir will accompany the patriarch’s divine services in Paris – at the Russian cathedral of the Three Saintly Hierarchs, at Notre Dame de Paris before Christ’s Crown of Thorns and at the Russian cemetery St.-Genevieve de Bois. The official visit by Alexy II was held at the invitation of PACE President Rene van der Linden who considers the development of an inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue one of the most important tasks of his presidency. The speech by Alexy II at the PACE was devoted to the restoration of Christian culture that created conditions for strengthening mutual understanding and interaction between the peoples on the European continent. The patriarch’s speech at the PACE proves of the PACE contribution to developing such dialogue, van der Linden stressed. Alexy II said the Orthodox and Catholic Churches should protect Christian values. In an interview with Le Figaro, Alexy II said he is convinced that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches “must protect Christian values against freedom, which is interpreted as permissiveness”. In his words, he “does not rule out a possibility of meeting Pope Benedict XVI”. “Maybe, we’ll meet in a year or two years, but not in a month,” the patriarch added. Alexy II stressed that he “comes against my meeting with the Pope (it should be historical) to be only an event for the press. It should really help us settle disagreements”. The French press reports that relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches warmed after 2002. According to French mass media reports, Alexy II is visiting a Catholic country for the first time after the Schism of 1054. The revival of the Christian cultural tradition in Europe would have a favourable impact on the relations with people of different cultural and religious traditions, the patriarch said. “Christian cultural revival will consolidate the ground for a dialogue and for cooperation of various cultural and religious traditions,” he stressed.
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