Interview of Patriarch Alexii
- -----Original Message-----
from the Russian TV program "Orthodox Encyclopedia"
Interview of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexii II
(starts with His Holiness)
I think that all our people empathized with the North Ossetia citizens on the day, when the tragedy took place. Today I've sent a letter to president of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, expressing my condolence. I also spoke on the phone to Alexander Sergeevich Dzasohov, and asked him to express condolence on my behalf to the citizens of North Ossetia-Alania in view if the death of people. We also gave an order to serve funeral services on Sunday, September 5, for the deceased as the result of act of terrorism. We will also pray for the recovery of those who are in hospitals, who had a nervous shock, who was morally traumatized, and for all who need support in these hard days.
Addressing the citizens of Alania, I would like to express our compassion and our support.
Regardless of the fact that we are separated by many kilometers. in these fearful days we were with the people of North Ossetia, sharing their grief and praying for a successful end of this act. Today we too mourn for the deceased and pray for the recovery of everyone who suffered of the actions of the terrorists.
- Your Holiness, we are so overtaken by terrorism that many people feel fear, helplessness and despair and what's more - want of revenge and hatred arises in the hearts of people. What can you advise, how should one live through these days , where should one find the source of spiritual peace, how should one overcome the hatred and aggression?
Of course people feel lack of protection. Being in any part of the city (at the Rizhskij train station for example), one can fall victim of a terrorist act: an explosion can happen anywhere, and there will be more victims. But I think that it is exactly what the terrorists want: they want to spike fear and uncertainty in the nearest future into us . Thus, we must first of all stay calm and resist all the attempts to destabilize our society. We must stay confident and support each other. In my opinion, our people manage it: just look at the apparent solidarity with the people of North Ossetia Alania, which lived though a terrible shock. Hatred and hostility should not be allowed into heart, although I understand how hard it is after what had happened. Today the Mayor of Moscow Jury Luzhkov called those, who performed this outrage, monsters, because even animals do not treat children like the terrorists did.
I would like to warn you against one more extreme: you must not only keep hatred away from your hearts, but also extend it to the people of other nationalities or confessions. We've always lived in a multi-national and multi-confessional country, and we must maintain peace and concord regardless of anything. Our power and our future is in it. If we panic and hate each other, we will only break the fragile peace, which is maintained in our society and our country with such tremendous effort.
- Your Holiness, your address revealed the position of the Church concerning terrorism, but people are expecting concrete actions, concrete help and often ask themselves, what exactly does the Church do in this respect? Are there special missions in the Church, which help the injured, render assistance ?
Feofan, the bishop of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz, with our blessing, was always present at the place of the terrorist act in Beslan. With the present psychologists, he supported people, waiting
For the fate of their children , friends and relatives to be decided. In those moments, the people, first of all, needed moral support. The clergy offered and will be offering assistance to everyone who needs it. But we always responded to the circumstances, when sacrificial help was needed. Our orthodox people are sacrificial. They are always willing to help those in trouble. I believe that these days none of the children of our Church will stay indifferent to the sorrow, the grief, the and the loss of the people of North Ossetia.
- Your Holiness, you've just said that the Church always supported its people in distress. The Church learned to survive during wars, hunger, distress and persecutions… But today we have a new disaster, which is yet unknown to most of us - terrorism. What should the position of the believers and the clergy be in such hard times, how should the Church react to such trial?
You were right to say that the Church always supported its people in joy and in sorrow. To my opinion it was obviously shown in the 20th century: in the years of war, repressions and other trials. The Church shared the sorrows, supported the people and their sacrificial impulse. It was most obvious during the war, when the people gave up their poor funds. The Church and the clergy also donated. On these funds the armored division of St. Dmitriy Donskoy and the squadron of St. prince Alexander Nevskiy were formed. It is a most obvious example of Church participation in common misfortune and of the help of orthodox believers, who did not stay indifferent to the faith of their nation and their Motherland.
Now a new disaster came to our land. As the Minister of Defense, Sergey Ivanov said, a new war has started. Only this time it is invisible, without a battle front and a front line, thus, we never know where and how it will turn up. We must show self-control and courage. What we all need now is not to give way to panic and provocation. We must stay firm and we must believe that our people can bare the trial that fell to their lot in the beginning of 21st century.
- You began your Primate service in the years when the Soviet Union was falling apart and there was a great number of domestic and international dissentions. There were also many victims of those conflicts and back then, with your blessing, special prayers for pacification, reconciliation and salvation of our country were read during the service in all the churches of Moscow...
We always pray for our country - "For our God-saved land, the rulers , warriors and its people". During each service at every lesser supplication and petitioning ektenia. In this way we always prayed and will pray. We believe that our country, which was called the House of the Mother of God from the earliest times, will be saved by the prayers and intercession of the Queen of Heaven.
I think that the return to Russia of the miracle-working icon of Tichvinskaja Mother of God is the sign of Gods mercy to all of us. When the ancient icon, before which our ancestors prayed since 14th century, was returning home, it was met with incredible prayerful animation in Riga, Moscow, St. Petersburg, in Tichvin. I believe and hope that the Queen of heaven will protect our country with Her veil further on. But we must be worthy of Her prayers and Her intercession, for Her to truly be the Zealous Intercessor of Christians.
So many touching prayers to the Mother of God were written! They are asking to save the country all our friends and relatives and the people we live with, sharing our course of life. We must only have strong faith , appealing to God and relying on the intercession and the Veil of the Mother of God. Then God and His Most Pure Mother will help us. Let us look back at our history, at the exploits of zealots of faith and piety, who were glorified in our land, at our elder brothers, who pray , intercess and strengthen us. Their prayers will strengthen and encourage us in hardships and trials.
- Your Holiness, many people, speaking of terrorism, put a stress on religious confrontation and the aggressiveness of Islam. Do you consider Islam an aggressive religion?
Islam does not call for terrorism or violence. Thus, I think that those who mention the aggressiveness of Islam are wrong. From the experience of living in the Soviet Union we know that in Tatarstan and in Bashkortostan Russians, Tatars and Bashkirs lived in peace and never came into conflicts. The conflicts are brought in from outside by those who want to divide our country according to the religious principle also. We must resist such attempts.
We've established an Interreligious council, which consists of traditional religions of Russia representatives. At the instance of the head of the Muslims in the Northern Caucuses, sheih-ul'-islama Alahshuk'ur Pasha-zade a council of religious figures of the countries of Commonwealth of Independent States has organized. I think that by creating these religious institutions, we are showing everyone that we want to cooperate and fulminate the act of terrorism and violence. Let everyone, who want to divide us know, that we must and will cooperate , even though we belong to different confessions, regardless of the attempts to divide and to embroil us.
- Your Holiness, we thank you for offering our program so much of your time and answered the questions so vital to us.. Today our country needs your Primate's prayers.
I wish God to give everyone who watch this program peace and tranquility.
Because, as St. Seraphim of Sarov said, the most important is to find the inner peace and them thousands of people around us will be saved. I think that each of us felt that when the soul is calm , our inner peace spreads to those around us. Let us maintain peace with the help of God, the intercession of the Most Pure Mother of God and the prayers of the saints.