08 July 2009, 13:49
Patriarch Kirill and Barack Obama to foster friendship among Christians of Russia and the USA
Moscow, July 8, Interfax - Dialogue between the Christian populations of Russia and the United States is important for the development of relations between the two countries, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Moscow on Tuesday.
"The fact that the American and Russian people have preserved their common, Christian, system of values is increasingly important. We are the most religious countries, and it is crucial to maintain dialogue between our countries' Christians because our people need to be friends," Patriarch Kirill said.
"It is necessary to appeal to the hearts of the people in order to stem anti-American sentiments in Russia, and anti-Russian sentiments in America," he said.
Russian missionaries brought the Christian faith to the American continent, he added.
"We have a history of kind communication with our American Christian brothers. We tried to keep these good relations even during the most difficult years of the Cold War," the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said.
Religious institutions, particularly the Russian Orthodox Church, play a special role in Russian society's life, U.S. President Obama said.
The U.S. president welcomed Patriarch Kirill's contribution to the strengthening of Christian unity and expressed readiness to cooperate with the Russian Church.
Patriarch Kirill, for his part, gave Obama an icon of the Virgin Mary as a memorable present.