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Patriarch Kirill: Religious ignorance to blame for extremism in Russia

January 28, 2014, 19:46 UTC+3 28
Head of the Russian Orthodox Church said that bringing up children “in their own religious culture forms a benevolent attitude toward other religions”
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Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

© EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

MOSCOW, January 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Religious illiteracy is the main reason for extremism in Russia, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said on Tuesday.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, said that bringing up children “in their own religious culture forms a benevolent attitude toward other religions.”

“Our people still remain religiously illiterate despite great efforts,” the patriarch said at Christmas readings in the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament.

“And one of the reasons why visiting emissaries from abroad recruit our Muslims and not only Muslims, but Orthodox Christians as well and provide them with pseudo-religious arguments is that there is no intellectual rebuff,” he said when asked about how to counter terrorism and extremism.

The Russian Church leader’s words came a month after two suicide bombings killed 34 people and injured more than 70 others in attacks on a railway terminal and a trolleybus in the southern Russian city of Volgograd on December 29 and 30, 2013.

Patriarch Kirill said it was not enough to keep repeating the catchphrase of Leopold the Cat, a placid and amicable character of a Russian animation cartoon series: “Let’s live in friendship, guys.”

“There will be no such friendship,” the hierarch said. “Attitude toward other religions should grow from one’s own religious commitments.”

“And of course, the state should have the will, ability and effective force to fight radicalism by methods the state is entitled to use. The Church has no sword. The Church has no right to use force, but the state has this right,” he said.

“I think the legislative factor, the executive branch, huge educational work together with religious education, inter-religious dialogue will make it possible for us to really counter this horrible threat,” Patriarch Kirill said.

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