Church and state reenact old Russian presence in Middle East


Interfax-Religiia, 29 May 2016


Russian President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill made a trip to Mount Athos where they led the celebrations in connection with the 1000th anniversary of Russian monasticism on the Holy Mount.


Speaking before the brethren and abbot of the Russian monastery of St. Panteleimon, V. Putin urged "to do everything necessary in the future so that this Russian corner on Athos continues to strengthen the spiritual forces of all Orthodox believers."


He noted that historically the monastery has fulfilled and continues to fulfill the high spiritual mission and roads for Orthodox in Russia and in other countries.


"I was here in 2005. I can now testify that the changes are simply miraculous," V. Putin said, having in mind the efforts at restoration of the monastery.


He also met with members of the Sacred Kinot [the Supreme body of management of the monastery on mount Athos]. In his opinion, the role of Athos is exceptionally significant today "when Orthodoxy in Russia and other countries where it is professed is being strengthened."


"In reviving today the values of patriotism, historic memory, and traditional culture we count on reviving our relations with Athos. I am happy that year by year an every greater number of pilgrims from Russia, already over 11 thousand per year, visit it," V. Putin said.


In his turn, Patriarch Kirill in his sermon in the Panteleimon monastery described how he visited Athos for the first time more than 40 years ago and the cloister at that time was in ruins and there were only seven monks there.


"I cannot tell you their feelings when they caught sight of us, how much joy and hope there was, although it seemed to many that the Russian presence had ended and Panteleimon monastery never could be revived," the patriarch said.


However, he continued, the monastery was restored and specific changes have occurred in recent years, when the Russian authorities were actively engaged in planning for the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the Russian presence on the Holy Mount and a corresponding foundation was created.


The patriarch noted that Athos, which is inhabited by representatives of various peoples, "gives us the image of world Orthodoxy and we should take good care of it."


He said that today everybody who comes to Athos sees this "world dimension" of Orthodoxy and hears the liturgy in various languages and has the possibility of meeting the most diverse cultures which live together as one family.


He asked the monks of the cloister to remember their responsibility.


"People who visit you do not know about your own problems and they do not estimate your holiness and sinfulness, but they look on you as models. Do not destroy this image which Athos has formed in the consciousness of the Orthodox person but all of you live in harmony and display the unity of Orthodoxy, and may each monk show to the world the image of the sinful but redeemed person," the patriarch concluded. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 May 2016)

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