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MOSCOW, July 25 (Itar-Tass) - Supreme hierarchs and top clerics of all the fifteen national Eastern Orthodox Churches are expected to get together for the first time ever in the Kremlin Thursday where they will be received by President Vladimir Putin.
Delegations of the Churches have arrived in Russia to attend festive functions devoted to the 1,025th anniversary since the adoption of Christianity by Kievan Rus.
“The format of this meeting is unprecedented, as the heads and top clerics of all the fifteen existing Orthodox Churches uniting more 227 million believers will get together in the Grand Kremlin Palace,” the Kremlin press service said.
“This is a yet another testimony to the recognition of the role the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church are playing in contemporary civilization and in the preservation of spiritual foundations /of society - Itar-Tass/,” it said.
The participating delegations represent the Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Russia, Georgia, Serbia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland, Greece, and North America.
Officials at the press service believe the participating Eastern Orthodox hierarchs the discussion at the meeting will not confine to inter-denominational issues but will also concern general pressing issues of international politics that have a bearing on the interests of Orthodox Christian communities in various countries of the world.
In two days’, Putin is due to go to Kiev where the major festivities devoted to the baptizing of Kievan Rus will be held. He will attend a festive sermon on St Vladimir’s Mount and will visit the world-famous Kiev Monastery of the Caves where he will decorate a group of clerics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to Moscow Patriarchate with the state awards of the Russian Federation.
The hierarchs have been decorated for their contribution to friendly relations between peoples and for the consolidation of spiritual traditions.
Monday, Putin gave an interview timed for the release of a documentary titled ‘Russia’s Second Baptizing’, in which the praised the role the Russian Orthodox Church in binding together the Russian nation and the state.
“The Church plays a crucial role for the country by creating the groundwork for inter-denominational and inter-ethnic peace and concord,” he said. “The importance of the Church reaches out beyond the borders of today’s Russian Federation, as it helps us establish good relations with the peoples of other countries, especially the ones living in the post-Soviet space.
“The Church is playing a very fruitful role,” Putin said.
“In essence, the development of the Russian nation as an entity began with the adoption of Christianity and the centralized Russian state started emerging, too,” he said. “The foundation of the Russian nation and the Russian state incorporates the common spiritual values that bind together a big part of Europe, located on which are Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.”
“This is our common spiritual and moral space and that’s a very important factor uniting the nations,” Putin said.
“The Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church have many common areas for cooperation,” he said. “These are the spiritual and moral upbringing of people in general and the young generations in particular, as well as care for those who need assistance and support - people suffering from diseases, the disabled, individuals with limitations, and prison inmates.”
“The Church is a natural partner of the state in that sphere,” Putin said.