The World Summit of Religious Leaders completed its work on Wednesday. Even the most implacable critics could not but recognized that it was a summit with the capital S as it has gathered religious leaders of the unexampled high level. From July 3 to 5, ‘President Hotel’ was a real exhibition of the achievements of the foreign policy of the Russian Orthodox Church and its partners in the Interreligious Council of Russia, which include the Central Spiritual Board of Muslims of Russia, the Coordinating Centre of Muslims of the North Caucasus, the Federation of the Jewish Communities of Russia, the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and Associations in Russia, and the Buddhist traditional Sangha. The achievements are to be found not only in the interreligious dialogue, but also in the dialogue with Catholics and Protestants, the authorities, journalists and business community. These achievements look very impressive.
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the forum. In his address he underscored that he regarded the forum in Moscow as another recognition of the high role and centuries-old experience of Russia in the dialogue of civilizations. ‘A unique unity and diversity of different religions and nationalities has been formed here on a vast Eurasian expanse. Their interaction has played a backbone part in the development of Russian statehood and in strengthening its integrity,’ the president noted.
Russia has visually demonstrated its capability not only to negotiate social and economic topics within G8, but also to gather on its territory religious leaders who addressed the world with a clear and non-banal message.
‘Dialogue and partnership among civilizations should not just be slogans. We need to build a world order which combines democracy - as the way of harmonizing different interests and as people’s participation in national and global decision-making - and respect to the moral feeling, way of life, various legal and political systems, and national and religious traditions of people. Comprehensive, just and durable solutions of international disputes should be reached by peaceful means. We reject double standards in international relations. The world should have many poles and many systems, meeting the requirements of all individuals and nations rather than matching lifeless and oversimplified ideological patterns,’ the message of the Moscow forum reads.
Among important consequences of the World Summit of Religious Leaders one could note a noticeable thaw in relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, strengthening of relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Muslim leaders from Iran and other Arab countries, a substantial progress in the dialogue with the Old-rite believers and the Russian Church Abroad. Its representatives could see with their own eyes that interreligious dialogue does not erode the fundamentals of the Orthodox faith, but rather permits to show its beauty to people of other faiths. One cannot but note the breakthrough in the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and China People’s Republic, which sent a high level delegation to the summit and promised to help revive the Orthodox life in China. The Russian leaders of Islam, Judaism and Buddhism have also gained much from the summit as they had an opportunity to express their thoughts at this representative forum and have direct contacts with people of their faith from other countries.
The World Summit of Religious Leaders will undoubtedly enhance Russia’ authority on the international arena and serve a beautiful prelude to the G8 meeting in St. Petersburg.