23 January 2012, 10:32
Patriarch Kirill welcomes steps towards intl recognition of Palestinian state
Moscow, January 23, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has backed the process of the formation of Palestinian statehood.
"I would like to congratulate you and the whole Palestinian people on the very important steps that were taken and implemented, aimed at international recognition of the Palestinian state," the Patriarch said at a meeting with head of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow on Saturday.
"Palestine's formal accession to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was a bright indication of the situation changing for the better," he said.
"I am convinced that Palestine can make its reconciling and constructive contribution to the establishing of inter-religious peace in the Middle East where today this peace is ruined," the Church leader said.
There has been a significant rise in the number of Russian Orthodox pilgrims going to Palestine, mainly thanks to the relations established between Palestine and Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate, he also said.
The Russian Spiritual Mission has existed in the Holy Land since 1847 and has a number of methochions in Palestine, Patriarch Kirill recalled. Today efforts are under way to restore these "places of historical significance to us," he said, thanking Abbas for the support the Russian Church has "in this important cause."
Abbas has been elected as a laureate of the international award of the Foundation for the Unity of the Orthodox Peoples.
"This is very symbolic because you are not an Orthodox believer. But with this award we want to express our special respect for what you are doing to preserve the holy places, to maintain religious life in the Holy Land, including the life of Orthodox believers, a special contribution to the development of relations between the people of Palestine and Russia," the Patriarch said
This award is "an honor for the entire Palestinian people," the PNA leader said.
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