2007-05-17 13:16:00

Putin calls restoration of Russian Church unity a historic event

Moscow, May 17, Interfax - Russian President Vladimir Putin has described as a historic event the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), which took place at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow on Thursday.

"This is a truly national historic event of immense moral significance," Putin said speaking at the signing ceremony at the cathedral.

"The Church was divided as a result of a deep political split in Russian society itself and bitter confrontation primarily in society," Putin said.

"Now, after long decades of separation, it would be safe to say that nobody has benefited from this ecclesiastical and political conflict," he said.

This conflict has caused serious losses both to the church and the believers, "who had to live in the atmosphere of estrangement and mutual mistrust for a long time," Putin said.

"Today's revival of the Church unity is a crucial precondition for restoring the unity of the entire Russian world, which has always seen Orthodoxy as its spiritual foundation," Putin said.

"In modern Russian society based on democratic principles of open and free practice of any religion, there is no more ground for a tragedy and confrontation that have become a matter of the past," Putin said.

Putin met with Metropolitan Laurus, the first hierarch of ROCOR, during his visits to New York in 2003 and 2005. Meeting Metropolitan Laurus in September 2003, Putin handed him a personal invitation from Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.

In May 2004, Putin received Patriarch Alexy II and Metropolitan Laurus in the Kremlin and promised that the Russian government "will do all it can to help in the full revival of the Russian Orthodox Church and its reunification."