03 July 2009, 16:45
Ties between Christians "powerful factor" in Russia-U.S. relations - Patriarch
Moscow, July 3, Interfax - Relations between Christians in Russia and the United States are "a very powerful factor" in Russian-U.S. relations in general, said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
"I am deeply convinced that relations between religious leaders and communities of the two countries are a very powerful factor of relations between [the two] peoples," Patriarch Kirill said at a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle in Moscow on Friday.
In Russia, "great hopes are being built" on U.S. President Barack Obama's planned visit to Moscow on July 6-8, Kirill said.
"There is a belief that the basis is indeed being formed for better relations between our countries," he said.
The Russian Orthodox Church has a long history of relations with the United States, the Patriarch said. He mentioned that Russian missionaries had brought Orthodoxy to the United States.
"The presence of the Russian Church on the American continent has seriously contributed to the relations of the Orthodox Church with other Christian denominations and religions of the United States. Even in the hardest of times, the times of the Cold War, the Christians of the United States and the Soviet Union maintained good relations, and this, of course, had what was, perhaps not a very powerful, but a concrete effect on the situation," Kirill said.
The Russian Orthodox Church has always attached great significance to its relations with Christian and other religious communities in the United States, he said.