07 March 2007, 12:49
Mass media monitoring: interview of Metropolitan
Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad for Greek Newspaper Vima
- Last year the Department for External Church
Relations celebrated its 60th anniversary. You
are its coeval. What was the most difficult and
painful decision that had to be made over these years?
- The Department for External Church Relations
was established in 1946. At that time full-scale
external relations of the Russian Orthodox Church
were impossible, it was necessary first to
reestablish relations with the Russian
emigration, other Local Churches, to create a
small chancellery, which could develop daily
relations between the Church and State structures.
The basis of the modern full-scale and
multi-sided activity was laid by the founder of
the Department Metropolitan Nikolai (Yarushevich)
and his successor Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov).
They created the Department which subsequently
faced a hard task of developing relations between
the Church and the State, the Church and the
Society, interfaith and inter-confessional ties
during the collapse of the Soviet Union,
destruction of stable social connections, during
the period of breaks and divisions.
It is rather hard to say which decisions were the
most painful. There always were a lot of them.
The main task of the Department has always been
to provide adequate participation of the Church
in public life, to keep voice of Orthodoxy heard
in Russia and the whole world, so that the
Russian Orthodox Church, no matter what the
historical circumstances are, accomplishes her main mission saving people.
- At the end of November Pope Benedict XVI
visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Do you
consider the Popes visit to Moscow possible?
- First of all I would like to remind that even
when the relations between the Russian Orthodox
and the Roman Catholic Churches were most
complicated, we never excluded the possibility of
the Popes visit to Russia or his meeting with
His Holiness Alexy, Patriarch of Moscow and All
Russia somewhere else. But it is our conviction
that this historical event should testify
positive tendency in relations between our
Churches. It could be reached only if several
concrete problems that exist between us are
solved missionary activity of Catholics in
Russia and other CIS countries and conflict
between Orthodox and Greek Catholic believers in
Ukraine. I am sure that the basis for the
improvement of our relations can be the closeness
of our Churches positions on such problems as
morality, bioethics, protection of tradition Christian values.
- There was information that you interfered in
the situation with the Monastery of Esphigmen,
demanding that the Ecumenical Patriarch does not
permit the expulsion of the brethren, settled
down in the monastery. What exactly did you
demand from the Ecumenical Patriarch and what
would be your answer to those, who accused you of
interfering in the internal affairs of the Holy
Mountain, which is under the jurisdiction of Patriarch Bartholomew?
- In this case you are obviously mentioning the
distorted account of the events which took place
four years ago. As you remember, in 2003 the
conflict around the monastery of Esphigmen in
Athos sharpened. The press reported that one of
the monks died during the attempt to penetrate
into the blocked convent, different dates of the
assault were sounded. The further escalation of
the conflict could cause new victims, which we
consider intolerable at this holy place. We
shared our concern with the Church of
Constantinople. We did not demand anything. It
becomes obvious if you see the address, published
on the official site of the Russian Orthodox
Church. Quite the opposite, we stated that our
Church respects the jurisdiction of the
Constantinople See and has no intention to
interfere in the events on the Holy Mountain.
February 25, 2007