Orthodox Patriarchs Meet in Moscow

Bartholomew I and Kirill Showing New Stage of Friendship

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MOSCOW, MAY 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople is visiting Moscow in a meeting that both he and the Russian patriarch have described as "transcendent."

Today, Bartholomew I and Kirill both met with President Dimitri Medvedev in the Kremlin, discussing several issues regarding relations between the Church and state.
 
Last Sunday, the patriarchs concelebrated the Solemnity of Pentecost in the Cathedral of the Dormition, which is within the monastery of St. Sergius.
 
After the celebration, the patriarch of Moscow turned warmly to Bartholomew I, saying that he was "very happy to see him" in Moscow, L'Osservatore Romano reported.

"It is not just a courtesy visit; we see it isn't like this. All protocol is put aside to give place to joint prayer before the throne of God, our mutual love and our sincere willingness, " Kirill added.
 
"In face of the enormous responsibility we bear, we must go forward as a family, to give proof of true peace," the Russian patriarch continued. "The more we cooperate and interact, the stronger is our voice. And God willing we won't be distracted until the completion from what is most important for Orthodoxy, holy unity."
 
For his part, Bartholomew I expressed his emotion on having returned to Russia 17 years after his previous visit, on that occasion, to Patriarch Alexy II. The ecumenical patriarch also expressed the hope that this visit "will contribute to reinforce our fraternal relations for the good of the whole of Orthodoxy."
 
Both patriarchs, with their delegations, went on foot together to the Church of St. Basil the Blessed to open, in the presence of the mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, the Days of Slav Literature and Culture.
 
The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople is scheduled to be in Russia until May 31. In addition to Moscow, he plans to go to St. Petersburg, where he will again concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with Patriarch Kirill, in the Cathedral of St. Isaac.
 
Rapprochement
 
This visit, which corresponds to Patriarch Kirill's July 2009 journey to Istanbul, marks a new stage in relations between both patriarchs, who in the last decades have experienced tensions and difficulties.
 
The estrangement between the two was patent, given their differences on the jurisdiction of Ukraine and of territories such as Estonia, split off from the former Soviet Union after the fall of Communism in 1989.
 
Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, a spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church, said in this regard that "many things have changed since then."
 
In fact, last year Patriarch Bartholomew re-launched the idea of convoking a Pan-Orthodox Synod, an idea that Constantinople has promoted since 1901, and that has gained renewed force in recent months.