Friday, January 31, 2014

Kirill and Patriarch of Antioch, a joint call for "peace and integrity" in Syria

The Moscow Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch have launched a joint appeal for peace and independence of Syria. 

"The two churches believe that only through open and honest dialogue true peace its independence and territorial integrity be guaranteed in Syria , and equal rights and opportunities for its citizens ensured," reads the statement issued on 30 January, at the end of Patriarch John X Yazigi's visit to Moscow.

According to the two religious leaders, it is important to support the process initiated in Geneva and at the same time hope that " that all the political problems in Lebanon, Iraq and all the countries in the Middle East will be dealt with in a spirit of peace that rejects violence and all types of pressure that may come from extremist positions or terrorist acts". 

The statement also stresses the need to take measures to ensure the immediate release of all the hostages from Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi ( of the Orthodox Church of Antioch ) and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim ( of the Syrian Orthodox Church ) - abducted in April - as well as nuns , priests and orphans of the Convent of Maalula.

"The Churches of Antioch and Russia both have an experience of co-existence with Islam - conclude the two Patriarchs - We reject any type of extremism and hate speech. We appeal to Christians and Muslims to work together for the benefit of their homelands."
The visits of religious leaders of the Eastern Churches in Russia are almost a daily occurrence now and show - according to some analysts - the growing attention of those Christian communities towards Moscow, increasingly seen as a point of reference and new champion of their defense against the threat of Islamic extremism. 

Kirill is giving a more "global" aspect to the Russian Orthodox Church than his predecessor Aleksy II and aims to carve out a leading role internationally. 

According to the director of the Radio Kommersant Konstantin von Eggert, who is also a commentator on religious matters, the battle for the defense of Christians is "also an opportunity for the Moscow Patriarchate to remember that not only it is the most numerous among the autocephalous churches, but that is ready to use its special ties with the Kremlin for defending the community worldwide".

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