07 October 2013, 15:05
In Belgrade Patriarch Kirill speaks of importance of Europe's Christian roots
Belgrade, October 7, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has spoken about the importance of Christian roots for present-day Europe.
"Today when some people doubt the relevance of this Christian source of European civilization we, Christian Orthodox Churches and all Christians of Europe, should help our contemporaries realize and sense once again how important this source is for shaping the spiritual and moral profile of Europeans," he said to reporters at Belgrade airport.
He voiced hope that festivities celebrating the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan will serve this purpose. With the intention of attending the festivities, the patriarch is touring Serbia and Montenegro.
The Edict of Milan, signed by Emperor Constantine I, put an end to the persecution of Christians, stipulated the return of all of their confiscated property and granted the church the status of a legal entity with all associated rights in Roman corporate law. Paganism lost the status of official religion.
Patriarch Kirill said that this model of the relationship between the church and the state that later was adopted in Byzantium became "the Christian foundation for civilization's development in Europe."
Patriarch of Serbia Irinej stressed that the visit of Patriarch Kirill "will greatly benefit the Church of Christ, help bring all Christian Orthodox hierarchs and peoples even closer to each other."
"We are very close to each other, we have similar roots, the same Slavic blood flows in us, we share the same faith," he said.
Patriarch Kirill also visited the metochion of the Russian Church in Belgrade and conducted a prayer service that was attended by the ambassadors of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to Serbia.
Archpriest Vitaly Tarasyev, a senior priest at the metochion, told the patriarch that the Trinity Church of the metochion was built by Russian refugees who had found themselves in Serbia after the 1917 revolution. In Soviet times, thanks to a personal donation of Metropolitan Nicodimus, a mentor of Patriarch Kirill, the first Christmas Tree party for children was organized there in 1973. Patriarchs Alexy I, Pimen and Alexy II took special care of the church.
"In 1999 when Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox people were in great trouble we sympathized with the Serbs. Together with them we lived through the bombing of Yugoslavia," the clergyman said.
He also noted at the time that Patriarch Kirill, when he headed the Department of Foreign Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, paid much attention to the restoration of the church after the bombings and consecrated it in 2007.