02 February 2022, 16:24
Orthodox Christians facing persecution in African countries look to Russia with hope - Metropolitan Hilarion
Moscow, February 2, Interfax - Christians are being persecuted in some African states, and Orthodox Christians from these countries look to Russia with hope, head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion said.
"Africa needs special attention today. Full-scale persecution of Christians has begun in some African countries. The Orthodox Christians of Africa look to Russia and its president with hope, to the Russian Church and its patriarch. They take to the streets with posters saying 'Thank you, Putin! Thank you, Patriarch Kirill!'" Metropolitan Hilarion said at a state award ceremony in the Kremlin.
The Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate is sometimes compared to a foreign affairs agency, he said.
"Our establishment is sometimes called the foreign ministry of the Church, but it's not quite fair as we work not only with foreign affairs, but also inter-religious relations in our Fatherland. And in the past few years, we increasingly felt like some kind of defense agency, as we have to defend the holy borders of our Church," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
The Russian Church was created over more than ten centuries, he said. "And we inherited it in the borders in which it was created. We didn't create it, we are not the ones to destroy it. And we will continue countering the external challenges we have been faced with today," he said.
He thanked Putin for supporting "persecuted Christians worldwide."
"Terrorists were driven away from Syria thanks to the Russian army, but in some other countries of the Middle East, where Christians are attacked by terrorists and radical groups, they also need Russia's protection and assistance," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
As reported, the African Exarchate of Russian Orthodox Church was established at the end of December 2021 after more than a hundred clerics of the Church of Alexandria declared their desire to transfer to Moscow Patriarchate due to disagreement with the fact that Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria recognized the non-canonical church of Ukraine. As of today, 150 African Orthodox clergymen have already joined the Russian Church.
"The increase is almost daily - countries are being added, dozens of pastors are being added, hundreds of thousands of believers are being added. Of course, this is global, and this is a very serious agenda, and we understand what a burden we are shouldering in this regard," Patriarchal Exarch of Africa Metropolitan Leonid said on the Spas TV.
"Our task is, in addition to take care of the spiritual care of these people, we'll be engaged in humanitarian activities there, social activities, we'll try to provide everyone with basic access to medical services, open by analogy, remember how in the Soviet Union there were, paramedic stations in remote places, we will try to do this," the patriarchal exarch said.
"We have now fully entered the continent, where the entire normal vertical of life is required to be fully restored, and the Russian Church will not stop only on its pastoral activities," Metropolitan Leonid concluded.