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MOSCOW, January 31. /ITAR-TASS/. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill I has managed to bring Christian values into the focus of public discussions, participants in a roundtable conference concluded upon assessing the patriarch’s tenure of office since his enthronement as head of the Church five years ago.
“Church-related themes have been plucked out of the periphery of the public discussions now,” Vladimir Legoida, chairman of the Church Synod's information department said.
t is important that any issues giving rise to sharp exchanges of opinions and even causing public condemnation are in the society’s spotlight, he says.
“Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, we speak about what it really means to be a Christian in the modern world or what the essence of the Evangelical deed is like and thus all these things are now in the focus of public discussions,” Legoida said adding that the mass media are writing about the Christians four times more frequently now than they did just several years ago.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Church’s external relations department, said that the public discussions help protect the believers’ rights all over the world.
He is confident that Patriarch Kirill’s numerous trips to foreign countries and the Church’s relief aid for the Syrian people suffering in the civil war express “our solidarity with the Christians who are now subjected not only to discrimination but to ostracism and genocide as well.”
“Protection of the Christians in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya has turned into the leitmotif of Patriarch Kirill’s tenure of office,” Metropolitan Hilarion said.
“In the dialogue between the government and society the Patriarch stands for those notions about justice that are very important for the human civilization, not just for believers, but for secular people as well,” the Reverend Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, said. “At the same time he can counteract pressure from highly diversified political quarters and ideologies.”
His Holiness Kirill I, who succeeded in the office to the late Patriarch Alexy II, was enthroned on February 1, 2009. Over the five years since his accession to the Patriarchal throne, he has performed 1,132 religious services and 124 trips to dioceses in all the corners of the canonical realm of the now united Russian Orthodox Church.
His tenure is also marked by the Church’s administrative reform when large dioceses were divided in order to enable the clergy to be closer to the laity, as well as to carry out their social functions and to speak about spiritual values at schools.
The Russian Orthodox Church includes 45 metropolitan districts and 273 dioceses with 163 of them in Russia. The Church’s canonical territory has seen an emergence of 114 new dioceses over the past five years. 95 of them are located in the Russia Federation.
Historically, the canonical territory of the Russian Church embraces practically all the territory of the former Soviet Union and, prior to it, the Russian Empire with the exception of Georgia, which has a national Orthodox Christian Church of its own.