31 August 2018, 12:09
Patriarch Kirill, Patriarch Bartholomew reaffirm commitment to dialogue to solve inter-church issues
Istanbul, August 31, Interfax - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia have reaffirmed their commitment to dialogue and joint work for the benefit of the Orthodox Church at a meeting in Istanbul.
"We believe in the power of dialogue. While political leaders use dialogue to solve problems in their countries,we, religious leaders, use dialogue to an even greater extent, because this path was bequeathed to us by God himself," Patriarch Bartholomew said opening the meeting on Friday.
He reminded Patriarch Kirill of their common spiritual mentors, with whom they worked for many years "for the benefit of the Church."
"May our predecessors' prayers help us work for the benefit of Orthodoxy today, as well," Patriarch Kirill said in response.
Patriarch Kirill said that every time he visits the Constantinople Patriarchate, "it brings to mind highly important moments in our shared history."
"Our Churches encountered various challenges and problems in every epoch, and through God's grace, we have always found ways to respond to the challenges of the epoch," he said.
Patriarch Kirill also noted the difference between the dialogue pursued by politicians, who champion the interests of their countries, and the dialogue conducted by religious figures.
"We certainly represent the interests of our Churches, but we also care about the unity and well-being of the Church as a whole," he said.
This puts "certain responsibilities and obligations" on the clergy, "but at the same time gives them strength and inspiration," Patriarch Kirill said.
"That is why, despite the fact that different discussions have taken place in this building, I have very warm memories connected with it, because we have never done anything that could harm world Orthodoxy. Because we bear responsibility for the whole Church, for the whole Divine Body," he said.
After posing for photos, the patriarchs continued their meeting behind closed doors.
Patriarch Kirill's press secretary, Priest Alexander Volkov, told reporters that the mood of the meeting is "peaceful and fraternal."
The meeting is expected to last about three hours.
Almost 20 Ukrainians who support the creation of a "unified local church" in Ukraine gathered near Patriarch Bartholomew's residence on Friday morning. They are wearing traditional Ukrainian embroidered folk shirts and refuse to talk to journalists in Russian. A police cordon about 50 meters from the entrance to the residence has stopped them from approaching it.
Before the beginning of the meeting, Patriarch Kirill visited the Constantinople Patriarchate's cathedral, where he venerated icons.
The meeting was announced in early August, but the two sides declined to disclose the meeting's agenda, only saying that they would discuss "bilateral matters of mutual interest."
Numerous watchers expect this meeting to shed some light on the issue of the creation of a "unified local church" in Ukraine, which Ukraine's secular authorities are seeking.