MOGILEV, October 12. /TASS/. The Kremlin shares the Russian Orthodox Church’s concern regarding the decision by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople on removing the anathema from the heads of two non-canonical churches in Ukraine. However, the Kremlin does not interfere in the inter-church dialogue, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"We are aware of the Russian Orthodox Church’s tough and consistent reaction to those decisions, which were made by Constantinople yesterday. We have said more than once that we are very much concerned about plans to take steps that could split the Christian Orthodox world. We are concerned about the fact that these decisions have been made, because in this case one can fully share the concern expressed by the Russian Orthodox Church," Peskov said.
He added that Russia’s secular authorities cannot interfere in the inter-church dialogue, have never done that and will not do so in the future."
Russia is ready to protect the interests of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine by political and diplomatic means, if Kiev is unable to control extremists, he added.
"If the developments spiral into abusive practices, of course, Russia will protect Orthodox Christians’ interests, just like Russia protects the interests of ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking population everywhere, and (Vladimir) Putin stressed that on numerous occasions," Peskov said.
When asked how Moscow would protect the interests of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine, the Kremlin spokesman said, "By purely political and diplomatic (means)."
Peskov noted that, since Christianity is "one of the religions confessed in Russia, of course, everything that concerns Orthodox Christianity is in the focus of the state’s attention. However, interference in these developments is ruled out," he stressed.
At present, Ukraine has one canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is a self-governing church constituent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Also, there are two religious organizations not recognized by the Orthodox Christian world - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk earlier described Constantinople’s decisions as illegitimate. He noted that the Moscow Patriarchate would come up with its response to "another illegitimate act by the Patriarchate of Constantinople" at its Holy Synod's session in Minsk on October 15.