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Russian Patriarch Calls for Peace in Middle East

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://english.gospelherald.com/article/church/2011/section/russian.orthodox.patriarch.calls.for.peace.in.middle.east/1.htm Russian Orthodox Patriarch Calls
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 6, 2007
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      http://english.gospelherald.com/article/church/2011/section/russian.orthodox.patriarch.calls.for.peace.in.middle.east/1.htm

      Russian Orthodox Patriarch Calls for Peace in Middle East

      The head of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed satisfaction with
      the growth of the church and called for peace in the Middle East in
      his Christmas Eve message Saturday.
      Jim Heintz Associated Press Saturday, Jan. 6, 2007 Posted: 5:27:PM PST

      MOSCOW (AP) - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed
      satisfaction with the growth of the church and called for peace in
      the Middle East in his Christmas Eve message Saturday.

      "Ever more people are returning to the homeland faith, churches are
      filled with parishioners of all ages, millions of people are reading
      spiritual literature and taking part in church affairs," Patriarch
      Alexy II said in his message.

      The Russian Orthodox Church, like some other Orthodox churches,
      including the one in Serbia, observes Christmas on Jan. 7 because it
      follows the Julian calendar for its liturgical schedule instead of
      the Gregorian calendar, adopted by Roman Catholics and Protestants
      and commonly used in secular life around the world.

      The Russian church has seen a strong revival since the collapse of
      the officially atheist Soviet Union in 1991. It now claims more than
      27,000 parishes and 700 monasteries throughout the former U.S.S.R..

      During Soviet rule, the church continued to operate under tightly
      constrained conditions. Many Russian Orthodox believers overseas
      considered the Moscow-based church essentially a Kremlin pawn and
      formed a splinter denomination, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

      The two churches reconciled last year, and in May plan to sign a
      formal reunification.

      Alexy noted those moves with satisfaction, saying that "the unity and
      links that were broken as a result of the tragic events of 80 years
      ago, today are being restored, and in this we see the kindness of God."

      However, the patriarch expressed deep concern about tensions in the
      Middle East.

      "The tragic events in the Holy Land have caused great pain in the
      hearts of all believers. There, where 2,000 years ago the angels
      announced Glory to God in the highest and peace on Earth, the blood
      of the innocent has been spilled anew," he said.

      Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, meanwhile, urged Serbs to overcome
      "senseless" internal divisions, and called on Serbs in Kosovo to be
      steadfast amid tensions.

      Orthodox Serbs consider Kosovo, although today predominantly ethnic
      Albanian and Muslim, the heart of their ancient homeland. Since the
      end of a 1998-1999 war between ethnic Albanian rebels and Serb
      forces, Kosovo's minority Serbs have lived in guarded enclaves under
      fear of attack at the hands of Albanians, and many Orthodox churches
      and monuments there have been destroyed or vandalized.

      "In the end, the oppressed will defeat the oppressors," Pavle said.
      "We pray for our enemies so they see that doing evil can bring no good."

      Kosovo has been under UN administration since 1999. Its final status,
      expected to be decided this year, is an issue of high tension.

      Alexy, in a meeting with journalists on Friday, decried the
      destruction of churches in Kosovo, saying they "are being destroyed
      with the reticent agreement or silence of those who should raise
      their voice in defence of these holy places," according to the church website.
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