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Resurgent Russia: Te hope of Persecuted Cristians

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  • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
      http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/print.php?storyid=17889 Resurgent Russia: The Hope of Persecuted ChristiansDate 2013/8/11 11:50:00 | Topic:
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      Resurgent Russia: The Hope of Persecuted
      ChristiansDate 2013/8/11 11:50:00 | Topic: Islamic

      Resurgent Russia: The Hope of Persecuted Christians

      By Ralph
      H. Sidway, guest contributor
      August 9,

      Scarcely a day goes by now where we do not read of yet another in a
      constellation of initiatives being undertaken by both the Russian Orthodox
      Church and the Russian government on behalf of persecuted Christians and other
      victims in Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere in the world.

      For instance, on
      July 31 it was announced that a charitable drive launched at the end of June by
      Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia had raised US$1.3 Million to assist
      victims of the Syrian armed conflict. That these funds will be distributed
      through the auspices of both Orthodox Christian Patriarch John X of Antioch as
      well as Supreme Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun of Syria, shows the Moscow
      Patriarchate's application of the Christian principle of caring for one's
      neighbor, regardless of creed.

      Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia at the recent celebration
      of the 1025th Anniversary of the Baptism of Rus.

      This may not seem like a
      lot of money, but it is underscored by another program run by the Moscow
      Patriarchate, a "boots on the ground" affair in which representatives of the
      Russian Church enter harm's way to personally deliver to Syria shipments of much
      needed medical equipment: "Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church
      have carried medical equipment at the amount of about three million rubles to
      Damascus," said Hieromonk Efrem, acting representative of the Patriarch of
      Moscow and All Russia for the Patriarch of Antioch.

      Yet the Russian
      Church is not limiting her involvement with world affairs to "mere" acts of
      grassroots charity.

      In July, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, together with
      Russian President Vladimir Putin, took the occasion of the recent celebrations
      in Moscow, Kiev and Belarus of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus into
      Orthodox Christianity as the ideal opportunity to nurture the conciliar ties
      among the Local Orthodox Churches, who together comprise the world's second
      largest Christian communion, with an estimated 225-300 million

      Putin, in his address to the assembled hierarchs, affirmed the
      significance of the moment: At a time when people are again in a search for
      moral supports, millions of our fellow citizens see them in religion and trust
      the wise pastoral guidance of the Russian Orthodox Church. Her selfless service
      of education is extremely called for and her public authority and peace efforts
      are aimed at strengthening harmony and stability and restoration of historical
      relations between our peoples and with our compatriots abroad...

      strengthening of Orthodox Christian ties is central to Russia's foreign policy
      as well:

      Putin noted that in many regions of the world, especially in
      the Middle East and North Africa, inter-confessional tensions were growing and
      the rights of religious minorities including Christians were infringed upon. "I
      believe" he said, "this acute problem should become a subject of close attention
      of the international community. Our country will continue pursuing an active
      creative policy towards the soonest possible settlement of conflict situations.
      And here, of course, the active stand, participation and support of Local
      Orthodox Churches and their primates are very important for

      Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokalamsk, head of the
      Russian Orthodox Church's DECR (Department for External Church Relations), at a
      meeting of Russian traditional religious leaders with (then Prime Minister)
      Vladimir Putin in February 2012, laid out the concerns of the Russian Church
      regarding her fellow Christians in the Muslim world:

      I would like to
      speak about the situation of Christian minority in the Middle East and in some
      other countries... Christians are killed, Christian women are raped, Christian
      Churches are burned down, mass exodus of Christians from the lands, where they
      used to live in peace with Muslims and representatives of other religions, is
      taking place.

      Metropolitan Hilarion expressed his wish that... systematic
      protection of Christians subjected to persecution in different countries will be
      one of the trends in Russian foreign policy. At the conclusion of his speech
      Metropolitan Hilarion noted that "Strong Russia is the country which protects
      Christian minorities in these countries and insists on providing guaranties for
      the rights of Christians being observed in exchange for political support or
      economic aid." Vladimir Putin said in reply: "You can be sure of it. There is no
      doubt about that."

      Putin's upcoming visit to Egypt should be a prime
      example of how this Russian foreign policy emphasis will work.

      to a report at Debka.com: For Putin, this will be his second trip to Cairo;
      his first took place in 2005 when Hosni Mubarak was president. He will play it
      to the hilt as a platform to show the world, and especially Arab Muslims, that
      he alone of the world's five leading powers is openly committed to fighting
      radical Islam and ready to assist any Arab leader sharing this

      This tough realpolitik approach is the only way to
      confront Islamic supremacists, and at the same time protect the world's
      persecuted Christian communities. Indeed, Putin's vigorous approach to foreign
      policy is like clear, fresh water, after being exposed for so long to the muck
      of the Obama administration's incomprehensible support of toxic Islamic
      extremists and terrorists in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and

      The United States, unmoored from her Christian and moral
      foundations, and with her leadership enabling Islamic extremists and terrorists,
      herself founders in the raging waves of history, and has already abandoned the
      world's Christians to perish in the tempest.

      Whereas it is Russia, led by
      her revitalized Christian conscience - personified in the resurgent Russian
      Orthodox Church- which presents an image of assured strength, moral clarity, and
      unflinching resolve in the face of evil. Russia has founded her house on a rock,
      and, having been already tested by decades of persecution, knows how to endure
      the storms of history.

      Ralph Sidway is an Orthodox Christian
      researcher and writer, and author of Facing Islam: What the Ancient Church has
      to say about the Religion of Muhammad. He operates the Facing Islam blog. http://facingislam.blogspot.com/

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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