Last week head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk visited Washington where he participated in the World Summit of Christian Leaders in Defense of Persecuted Christians. He also met with US Vice President Michael Pence and the country's influential religious figures. Head of the Synodal Department shared his impressions with Interfax-Religion in his interview.
- Your Eminence, your visit to the USA coincided with the period when contradictions between our countries aggravated. Did it somehow influence the themes and atmosphere of your conversations with American leaders?
- It didn't. On the contrary, I saw that American leaders wanted to cooperate with Russia, to settle accumulated problems. Certainly my post as the DECR chairman does not suggest conducting any negotiations on behalf of the Russian state. I spoke about the things that worry the Church, first of all, about persecutions against Christians and the threat of international terrorism.
As His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia always says there is the only way to eliminate terrorism: it is the way of coordinated efforts of all states ready to oppose terrorism not in words, but in practice. We need one consolidated coalition instead of several anti-terror coalitions involved in mutual confrontations. I hope that the USA and Russia will find the way to set aside political confrontations and unite in order to win a victory over international terrorism as they once united to win over the German fascism.
- On your pastoral view, do you see any common denominator that will help our countries arrive to an agreement on most acute issues of the international agenda?
- Today all countries of the world face the same challenge - international terrorism. There is no country which is protected from this plague of the 21st century. Terrorists who disguise their criminal actions in Islamic slogans and cry out 'Allah Akbar' when they kill people, act meanly and cynically. They target at defenseless people who don't have any other guilt except not sharing their Satanic ideology.
Terrorists carry out genocide of Christians in the Middle East and several countries of Africa and other regions of the planet. Until recently there was 'a conspiracy of silence' around this phenomenon, neither politicians, nor mass media mentioned it. Today this informational blockade has been broken through, and one of the reasons is that terrorists themselves post videos with violent executions of Christians with their heads cut in the Internet, terrorists shoot them, crucify, kill entire families and villages.
Today politicians and journalists started speaking about the persecutions. Vice president Pence's speech and speeches of other congressmen at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians witness to it.
Nevertheless, attention paid to persecutions against Christians is not proportional to the scale of these persecutions. Humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented scale takes place in front of the civilized world, planned and consequent genocide of Christians is carried out. First of all, it refers to the cradle of Christianity, the Middle East, but it also involved many other countries. Christians are the most numerous, but at the same time the most persecuted religious community on planet.
- Are you going to discuss your meeting with Michael Pence with Russian leaders?
- I will report to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia the results of the conversation and if he considers it necessary he will convey this information to Russian leaders. I suppose that today Christians of Russia and America can play an important role in political settlement. Communicating to American Christians I saw that many of them ardently sympathizes with Russia, its president, I saw their desire to pray for the success of the meeting between the presidents of Russia and the USA.
I know that many Russian Christians sympathizes with the acting American president. He is in a very difficult situation: significant part of the country's political establishment is in deaf or open opposition to his course. Basic mass media including CNN carry out targeted propagandistic campaign against him, which plays the Russian card as well. We hope that he will stick to his electoral promises and will spare no effort to establish a dialogue with Russia. Such a dialogue will bring nothing, but good.