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The government doesn't interfere in the Church's affairs, "the Church is free today."
This was disclosed on Tuesday by Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all Russia at the opening of the first historical meeting with the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York. The meeting is held at the Synodal residence of Moscow's St. Daniel Cloister. "Today we have established new relations with the government as never before in the history of Russia. Before the October revolution the Church had practically turned into a government structure. After the revolution the Church was separated from the government, however the government's interference in the sacred life of the Church was obvious, not to mention continuous repressions," the Patriarch said. "Currently, respectful relations have been established between the Church and the government, when the Church doesn't interfere in the political life and the government in its turn doesn't interfere in the Church's interior affairs," he stressed. At the same time, Alexis II noted that there are tasks, which should be solved jointly with the government, especially in the sphere of social services, i.e. aid to the elderly, indigent and orphans, who still remain in large numbers across the country, as well as upbringing of the youth. Both sides intend to discuss for the whole day ways of overcoming the tragic division of the Russian Church after the revolutionary events in 1920s. "I believe that today's meeting and the first steeps of rapprochement are the will of our hearts since many obstacles, which had been separating us, are now gone," Alexis II said. "We were glad to pray together with You at the Butovo firing range (to the southwest of Moscow), where a lot of clergymen were executed in the times of Stalin's repressions), which had been abundantly covered with blood of martyrs. We believe that the blood of martyrs helps the revival of the Church. The spiritual life in Russia is reviving with the help of prayers of new Russian martyrs and confessors," the Patriarch noted. "The fact that today we are together and we prayed jointly at the Butovo firing range means that this event is significant and historical and is held with the blessing of God and by prayers of new Russian martyrs and confessors," Alexis II said.
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