Moscow, November 22, Interfax - The head of the external church relations department of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion, has given high marks to the initiative of Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem on a meeting between the heads of Orthodox Ņurches to resolve disputes.
"In a situation of continuing crisis in inter-Orthodox relations, which, unfortunately, is only intensifying, this proposal appears to be very timely and we welcome it," Metropolitan Hilarion told Interfax on Friday.
The Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, which, as the Russian Orthodox Church representative said, occupies a special place in the family of autocephalous Orthodox Churches, is significant, he said, "In the church service texts it is called the mother of the churches, and it is really so. We also remember that the first bishop of Jerusalem was Holy Apostle James, the Lord's brother in the flesh," the metropolitan said.
The Russian and Jerusalem churches have a long and profound relationship, he said. "Pilgrimage to the Holy Land was the cherished aspiration of our righteous ancestors from the early days, people covered large distances and overcame many dangers to go there and pay their respects to the great holy sites and relics of the Christian world. Therefore, Russian believers have always loved and respected the Church of Jerusalem," the metropolitan said.
As regards the Russian Church, Metropolitan Hilarion said it has always favored dialogue. "Even before the sad events associated with the interference by the Constantinople Patriarchate in the church affairs in Ukraine, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia visited Istanbul on his initiative in August 2018 and asked Patriarch Bartholomew to refrain from dangerous poorly thought-out steps and resolve all issues through negotiation. But unfortunately, Constantinople did not want to discuss its actions with us then, and it does not want to do so now," the metropolitan said.
"Nevertheless, we are still open to dialogue and we are ready to do everything possible to protect the unity of Orthodoxy. Therefore, we support any efforts aimed at overcoming division, restoring peace and accord in our common Orthodox family, and therefore we appreciate the call to hold 'a brotherly meeting in love' to which Patriarch Theophilos invites the patriarchs,' the metropolitan said.