2016-10-05 18:33:00

Patriarch Kirill expected to meet with Queen Elizabeth II in London (updated)

Moscow, October 5, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is expected to meet with Queen Elizabeth II while visiting the United Kingdom on October 15-18.

"Patriarch Kirill is expected to meet with Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who celebrated her 90th birthday this year, and with Archbishop Justin Welby, the leader of the Church of England," Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, said in an interview with Interfax-Religion on Wednesday.

He did not disclose the agenda of the meetings.

"However, it can be said that the Middle East theme will be among the key ones, because this is one of the hot subjects that, unfortunately, have been on the agenda to stay. The situation in the Middle East is not changing for the better. If we talk about the condition of Christians in this region, it remains to be critical and tragic. And, certainly, this subject will be addressed at the above-mentioned meetings," he said.

The main purpose of the patriarch's visit, which is timed to coincide with the 300th anniversary of Russian Orthodoxy in British Islands, is to meet with his congregation, Metropolitan Hilarion said.

"Our Church's congregation in the United Kingdom is very large. I remember this very well from the times when I studied in this country. The matter could concern hundreds of thousands people, and these are people of different ethnic background, such as Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, those coming from the Baltic region and Central Asia. In addition, this also includes the Brits who have come over to Orthodoxy. This is an ethnically mixed and a very sizeable group," he said.