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MOSCOW, August 20 (Itar-Tass) — On Sunday the head of the Russian Orthodox Church completed his first ever historic visit to Poland. A joint address to the people of Russia and Poland calling for reconciliation signed by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and Archbishop Jozef Michalik became the visit’s milestone.
The Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily quoted Patriarch Kirill as saying that the signed document “is not another political declaration that appeared in the public sphere, but a pastoral confirmation that our belief calls on us to overcome historically created negative stereotypes, to reach mutual respect and trust.”
He emphasized that much efforts had been made for rapprochement of Russian and Polish people at the interstate level. This “undoubtedly, meets common economic interests, but pragmatic considerations are not enough to build truly fraternal relations between Russian and Polish people,” Patriarch Kirill said. “Therefore, we, Christians, should make our contribution to the time and effort-taking process of Russian-Polish reconciliation.”
The patriarch took part in a festive dinner hosted in his honour by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. On the next day the head of the Russian Orthodox Church laid wreaths at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier. On August 18 he visited Orthodox cathedrals in Hajnowka and Bialystok and one of the biggest Orthodox sanctuaries in Poland – the Holy Mount of Grabarka. Moreover, he did not neglect a gesture to Catholic believers, visiting the memorial to Father Jerzy Popieluszko, who fall victim to the Polish Communist authorities in 1984.
In their address to the people of Poland and Russia Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Jozef Michalik announced about the start of “a sincere dialogue hoping that it will help to heal the wounds of the past and overcome mutual prejudice and misunderstanding,” the daily reported. “Estrangement, open hostility and even the fight between our nations”, the reason of which the signatories see “in the loss of the initial Christian unity - schism and split contradicting God’s will became a temptation. Therefore we make new efforts for rapprochement of our churches and our people.”
Archbishop Michalik expressed confidence that “this document will affront the ears of many.” By the way the daily noted that ultra-Orthodox websites have already accused Patriarch Kirill of signing “a treaty on reconciliation with unrepentant heretics.”