On July 25, 2013 President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and representatives of the different Orthodox Patriarchates and Churches, who are in Moscow to celebrate the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus.
The meeting has brought together the heads and senior clergy of the 15 Orthodox Churches: the Patriarchates and Orthodox Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Russia, Georgia, Serbia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland, the Czech lands, Slovakia and Greece, as well as the Russian Orthodox Church in America. Between them, they unite more than 227 million believers.
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN:
Highly respected apostles and senior representatives of autocephalous Orthodox churches, welcome to Moscow.
I am very happy to welcome all of you – the heads of fifteen autocephalous, autonomous, Orthodox churches – to the Kremlin. This is the first time we are holding such a meeting, and we are very happy about it.
The Russian Orthodox Church and the entire Orthodox world are currently celebrating the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. Please allow me to begin our meeting by sincerely congratulating you on this shared celebration.
The acceptance of Christianity determined Russia’s fate and choice of civilisation; it became a decisive turning point in the Russian state’s ecclesiastical and secular history. The moral foundations of the Orthodox faith played a major role in the formation of our national character and the mentality of Russia’s peoples, revealing the best creative qualities of our nation, helping Russia hold a dignified place among the European and global civilisations.
Orthodoxy has become a spiritual buttress for the Russian state and for our national consciousness, uniting Russia, Ukraine and Belarus through strong bonds of brotherhood. It is symbolic that a joint steering committee headed by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia was formed to organise the combined celebrations of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus in our three nations.
Festivities marking the Baptism of Rus are held alongside many secular and spiritual events. One such event, symbolising the spiritual unity of the Orthodox peoples, is the bringing of a Christian relic – the cross of St Andrew the Apostle – to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Sincere, resolute faith helped our ancestors overcome the most difficult trials together, to surmount hardships and be victorious. This experience of moral improvement and cultural, socio-political development has become an integral part of the heritage of eastern Christianity, uniting entire peoples belonging to the Orthodox religious tradition. Russia holds a worthy place among them, championing justice, caring for the spiritual integrity of our Orthodox world, advocating for the development of cooperation and reinforcing active dialogue between Orthodox churches. I am confident that our meeting and your visit to the capital of our nation will serve these goals in every possible way.
Today, as people once again search for moral support, millions of our fellow citizens are finding it in religion, trusting the wise, ministerial words of the Russian Orthodox Church. Its selfless, educational, social service is in great demand and its public prestige and peace-building efforts are aimed at strengthening harmony and stability, and re-establishing the historical ties between peoples, including our compatriots abroad. It is also important that relations between the church and the state are developing at a new level. We are acting as true partners and co-workers to resolve the most pressing domestic and international challenges, developing joint ventures for the good of our Fatherland and our people.
Over many centuries, Russia was built and matured as a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state. It draws strength and confidence from this diversity, always being open to and respectful of other ethnic group and cultural traditions, championing the principles of solidarity, freedom and responsibility, respecting the rule of law and morality, and protecting traditional values. These are necessary conditions, the foundation for sustainable, progressive development, the guarantee for an equitable world order in the 21st century; the position of the Orthodox Church in advancing these principles is invariably steadfast.
Today, we are especially in need of efforts to prevent conflicts between civilisations – conflicts fraught with the most serious of consequences. Russia is prepared to share its extensive experience in establishing and supporting interfaith peace and harmony.
I am very alarmed that in many regions of the world, particularly the Middle East and North Africa, interfaith tensions are escalating and the rights of religious minorities are being violated, among them Christians, including Orthodox Christians. I feel this pressing problem requires close attention from the entire international community.
Our nation will continue to take an active, constructive position aimed at advancing a rapid political resolution to conflict situations. In these situations, we place great importance on fostering productive interreligious and intercultural cooperation. And naturally, active participation and support by regional autocephalous Orthodox churches and its primates are very important for us.
Please allow me to once again congratulate everyone here on the Baptism of Rus holiday. I wish you peace, prosperity, longevity, new successes in your selfless service in the name of affirming the high Christian ideals of kindness, charity and justice, and in the name of strengthening mutual understanding and trust between peoples.
Thank you for your attention.