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At a reception at the Kremlin on Thursday in connection with the 1,025th anniversary since the adoption of Christianity by Kievan Rus, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with top clerics and heads of the delegations of fifteen Local Orthodox Churches. The conversation focused on the threat of an exodus of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa. Clerics expressed their concern that an armed conflict and the elimination of Christians in the Middle East may result in a civilizational catastrophe.
The meeting was devoted to the 1,025th anniversary since the adoption of Christianity by Kievan Rus, the Kommersant daily reminds its readers. Putin drew attention to the fact that for all these years the Church has been protecting traditional Orthodox principles and has not wavered. The president stressed that in many regions of the world, particularly in the Middle East and in North Africa, “inter-confessional hostilities are on the rise, and rights of religious minorities, including Orthodox Christians are infringed upon”. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill warned against the danger of “devastation of the Middle East from the point of view of the presence of Christians”. “This will be a civilizational catastrophe,” he stressed.
The president called the Russian Orthodox Church a true partner of the state in the settlement of domestic and international tasks, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta writes. He marked that the authorities and the Russian Orthodox Church come as true partners and co-workers in the development of joint undertakings for the sake of the Fatherland and the Russian people. And nowadays, when people are looking for moral support, millions of Russians see it in religion, trusting “wise pastoral words of the Russian Orthodox Church”.
Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, whose residence is in Egypt, confessed after the meeting that he was very afraid of a situation where all Orthodox people would leave that region (the Middle East) and expressed hope that Russia would help to avoid that, the Izvestia daily writes.
“Two metropolitans have gone missing over the recent months in Syria (they went to regions bordering on Turkey with humanitarian aid and are still unaccounted for - the Izvestia). It is very deplorable that the world, the people keep silent on that issue,” the patriarch said.