MOSCOW, July 23 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the Russian Orthodox Church strengthens the unity of the Russian nation and statehood and helps maintaining friendly ties with other peoples.
"The Church plays a very important role for Russia creating conditions for inter-confessional, inter-ethnic and inter-national peace and accord,” the Russian president said in an interview preceding a new documentary titled “Russia: Baptized for the Second Time” to be shown by Russia-1 Television Channel. The documentary is timed to coincide with the 1025th anniversary of adoption of Christianity in Russia and is devoted to the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church. "The importance of the Church and its role goes beyond the boundaries of contemporary Russia. It helps us to establish good relations with people in other countries, especially in those that have emerged in the post-Soviet territory. The Church plays a very constructive and positive role,” the Russian president said.
"The adoption of Christianity and the Orthodox faith gave a start to the formation of a unified and single Russian nation and a centralized Russian state. The Russian nation and the centralized Russian state rest on common spiritual values, which unite the entire vast European territory on which Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are located. This is our common spiritual and moral space. It is also a very serious unifying factor for people,” Putin said.
The Russian president also praised the unification of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Overseas that took place in 2007.
"Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad are Russian at heart. They live with the interests of their homeland even when they are far from it. They understood that it was time to unify the entire Russian nation because the Orthodox faith often unites people of various nationalities,” Putin said. He recalled that there was not a column like ‘nationality” in the passports issued in the Russian Empire but there was a column called “religious confession”. According to Putin, the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church had many areas of cooperation. “They include spiritual and moral upbringing of people, particularly youth; support of the family institute and the upbringing of children and taking care of those who need help and support: people who suffer not only from illnesses, invalids, people with limited physical abilities and people in prisons and places of detention. “Here, the Church is the state’s natural partner,” Putin stressed.
“Our people used to turn to their roots, moral and religious values in most critical moments of our history,” Putin went on to say. He recalled the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) when Stalin addressed the nation with the words “Brothers and Sisters!” despite his severe if not ruthless attitude to religion. Stalin put enormous meaning into his words. “There were not just words but an appeal to the hearts and souls of people, their history and roots so that to bring home the tragic element of the events and mobilize people to defend their Motherland,” Putin went on to say.
President Putin said that it was logical and explainable why the Russians had turned to the Orthodox faith in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He explained that the moral vacuum that appeared in society at that time could be filled only with one thing - a return to true values, religious values. Putin said that he was not surprised that society had turned to Orthodox Christianity without any outside pressure. He said that the Church was in such a miserable state in the late 1990s that it was not in a position to produce any impact on anybody.
"The Soviet regime robbed the Church like no one had done before. But the material side was not the only problem. The Church was in a difficult plight in organizational and spiritual terms,” the president clarified.
“Our people decided to turn to their roots, faith and spiritual and moral values on their own. That was a natural revival of Russian people,” Putin emphasized.
Putin recalled how his mother baptized him and had to keep it secret from his father who was a Communist Party member.