Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Призыв к единству / A call for unity

The following is my translation of this Interfax.ru article. It is continuing coverage of the recent controversy first described in the previous post.

Alexei II and Bartholomew I call for the preservation of Orthodox unity

Moscow. 27 July. INTERFAX.RU – The Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia Alexei II made a statement about the unshakable historical unity of the Orthodox Faith in Russian and Ukraine.

“Raising doubts about our centuries of indisputable common history only puts our future in jeopardy,” said Alexei II on Sunday following the feast-day liturgy on St. Vladimir’s Hill in Kiev.

The Patriarch reminded listeners, that due to historical circumstances, the ecclesiastical center of Christian Russia has moved more than once. “After Kiev, there was Vladimir, then Moscow, then Saint Petersburg, and once again Moscow. But Kiev, the mother of Russian cities, has not lost its significance, but rather has strengthened and today stands as one of the important centers, the southern capital, of Russian Orthodoxy,” emphasized Alexei II.

Turning to history, he remembered with thanks the Patriarch of Constantinople Dionysia, who in 1686 recognized the inclusion of the Kiev Metropolis in the body of the Moscow church, thanking “the reunification of that which was once one, but which became divided due to the confluence of historical circumstances.”

The reunification, according to Alexei II, was much longed-for by the episcopate, priests, the people, and the Ukrainian leaders of that time.

The Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia made it clear that, despite political changes in the former Soviet Union, the unity of the Orthodox Church must be preserved.

“The unity of Russian Orthodoxy does not pose a threat to sovereign government, such as the one which has succeeded Kievan Rus',” said Alexei II.

According to him, the Russian Orthodox Church “has created all the necessary conditions for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, headed by the Blessed Metropolitan Vladimir, to have full freedom and responsibility to care for the Ukrainian people.”

Alexei II thanked the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew for “expressing adherence to Canon Law of the Church.” He noted that “it is precisely upon such an unshakable foundation that the jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church must be built as is the soundness of Orthodox unity.”

The Church of Constantinople, as Alexei II noted, was the source for Christianity in Russia, and “for this, we shall always be connected with the Mother Church.”

Speaking later, the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I called for all sides of the schism in Ukrainian Orthodoxy to come together.

“My message to those participating in the resistance: sincerely do everything you can for the strengthening of peace and unity,” he said.

According to the Patriarch, these days celebrating the 1020th anniversary of the Christening of Russia have been welcomed “by one side as the remembrance of the gifts which the Ukrainian Nation received after the Christening, and by the other, as a call for division to overcome the body of the Church as quickly as possible.”

“The Mother Church of Constantinople has suffered with her dear daughter Ukrainian Church as if these divisions afflicted her very own body, yet also hopes for the rapid and full achievement of God’s wish for unity,” noted the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Earlier on Sunday, Alexei II and Bartholomew I jointly celebrated the Divine Liturgy in honor of the 1020th anniversary of the Christening of Russia in an open-air ceremony on St. Vladimir’s Hill in Kiev at the foot of Saint Vladimir’s tomb, according to an “Interfax-Religion” correspondent.

Before the start of the service, Alexei II approached St. Vladimir’s Hill by car, and upon exiting the vehicle, he was greeted by the applause of believers. As Alexei II and Bartholomew I proceeded together towards the platform prepared for the service, gathered believers enthusiastically chanted: “Alexei! Alexei!”

The President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, greeted the two Patriarchs beside the scarlet platform, which was surrounded by the Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, Archbishop Hieronymus of Greece, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, and representatives of other jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church. Yushchenko and Bartholomew I kissed each other three times and afterwards shook hands with Alexei II.

The service was broadcast live on all National Ukrainian channels.


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