Bishop Mark of Yegoryevsk, vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, answers questions of Interfax-Religion.
- Patriarch Alexy met on March 5 with the Hamas delegation on a visit to Moscow. What did the Russian Orthodox Church expect from this meeting?
- The invitation of the Hamas was not initiated by us but by the leaders of our state. On the other hand however, representatives of this movement are the force that has been elected through a democratic procedure in the Palestinian Autonomy.
Representatives of the delegation asked His Holiness the Patriarch to receive them Christ in His time was reproached for contacts with sinners and tax-collectors. But very different people come to church and we do not divide them into 'pure' and 'impure'; we reject no one. The very wish of a person to come to church shows that he might want to change in some way.
We look at this visit not from a political point of view, because the church is separated from the state, but from the religious one. Our task is to share the Russian Orthodox Church's view of the events that happened and are happening in Palestine and our vision of the past, present and future of the Palestinian Authority.
The Church's position on this issue is quite clear: we have witnessed a great deal of violence in the Holy Land and this vicious circle must be stopped. We will say so to everyone, including the Hamas representatives as a force now in power.
- Recently it was the 88th anniversary of Nicholas II's abdication. Not long before this date, representatives of the Russian imperial dynasty raised the problem concerning the need for a legal rehabilitation of the Tsar's family. What is your attitude to this problem?
- I do not think it is a good idea that the tsar should be rehabilitated on the level of secular authorities, because the rehabilitation has taken place anyway when it was decided to transfer the remnants found near Yekaterinburg to the imperial burial-vault in St. Petersburg and when the highest leadership of the country were present at the solemn ceremony of their reburial.
That the Church is not convinced of the authenticity of the remains brought to the Sts. Peter and Paul's Cathedral is another matter. Nevertheless, we believe this act in itself to be that of repentance and goodwill, which proves better then any kind of legal papers and certificates that what happened in Yekaterinburg was a crime and that government as a symbol of our nation showed certain repentance for it.
Moreover, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized the royal family two years later. After all that has been done the problem of rehabilitation is no longer relevant, while the attempts to rehabilitate the emperor now look petty and not serious.
Let us remember that most of the Christian martyrs, including those who suffered in the hands of the Bolsheviks as Nicholas II did, have not been rehabilitated either, and nobody seeks it, because saints do not need any rehabilitation. It is ever more irrelevant in case of the royal family in which the rehabilitation is a clear fact.
Those who raise this problem seem simply eager to show that it is they who are the emperor's heirs. That is to say these efforts are undertaken not to get the emperor rehabilitated but to make a gain for one's own selves.
- What is the Russian Orthodox Church's attitude to the filming of Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown?
- Negative, of course. Numerous critical remarks were expressed on this novel earlier, which is, among other things, abounds with mistakes.
I have not read it and I am not going to read it, because, having learnt what it is about, I believe it senseless to get bogged down in this, pardon me, morass.
I think the showing of the film after Dan Brown's book will only divide people into those who respect the religious worldview and those atheistically-minded people who seek to revenge themselves for the fact that a growing number of people come to understand that without God and spiritual values Russia will not be able to exist as a stable and prosperous state.