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MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. The church and society must do "everything possible" to contribute to the improvement of relations between Russia and the United States, Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Kirill told RT television channel in an interview following the first ever meeting between the primates of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, held in Cuba on February 12.
According to Patriarch Kirill, public support from the ordinary people, representatives of religious organizations, from churches will form such a climate in the countries that will have a positive effect also on the foreign policy makers.
He said that he discussed with Pope Francis, among other things, the situation in Syria that is now in danger. Patriarch Kirill said he and Pope Francis met at a time when confrontation between "two major powers" with "immense destructive force" had the potential to devastate "the whole world," calling for an improvement in relations between Russia and the United States as soon as possible.
The Russian Orthodox Church head said that most people in the United States are "Christians who share the same values and belong to the same global Christian family" as Russians, urging the two nations to use this cultural affinity "to build bridges, rather than deepen the divide" between the two countries.
Patriarch Kirill offered an example from the Cold War era, when US and Soviet Christians worked together "for a better future." "We had intensive contacts with the US Christian community, including delegation visits and conferences in an effort to work out a concerted Christian approach to the issues that divided the US and the Soviet Union," he said, calling on the Christian communities of both countries to continue such efforts.
"A large-scale war should be averted at all costs," he said, adding that it should be the "number one priority for the Americans, the Russians, and many other people with a sensible perspective on what is happening," Patriarch Kirill said.
Addressing the crisis in the Middle East, the Patriarch called on all countries seeking to put an end to the wars in Syria and Iraq, as well as to defeat terrorist groups, "to join their efforts for the sake of that goal." According to the Patriarch, the current situation in the Middle East requires joint action by all parties concerned, including "Russia, the United States, Western Europe, and some Arab countries."
He also said that the terrorists in the region should be defeated by military means, as one "cannot deal with terrorists through dialogue and exhortations alone." The Patriarch also stressed the importance of providing Syrians and Iraqis "with an opportunity to freely choose their future, so that these countries can live in peace and so that all religious groups, Christian or Muslim, can live side by side in peace."
A 30-point declaration, stating the joint position of the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church in relation to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in relation to the threat of a new world war was signed after the meeting. "We call on all Christians and all believers to pray to the Creator and Divine Providence to save God’s creation from destruction and prevent a new world war", the document says.