Russian Patriarch Visits Greece, Discusses “Moral Crisis of Humanity” with President

The Patriarch of Moscow has been in Greece for a seven-day visit, which began with a meeting with the country’s president. According to the Russian Orthodox Church website:

President Papoulias conferred a high state award, the Grand Cross of the Order of Honour, upon His Holiness.

Patriarch Kirill thanked the President for the privilege and said: “We, the fraternal nations, are of the same faith, which is a solid basis for relations of Greece with the countries of historical Rus, including Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. I believe that any problems on our relationship will be solved in a peaceful and fraternal manner for mutual benefit. I assure you in our prayers, support and openness to cooperation for the good of our Churches.”

…Discussed at the meeting were relationship between legislative and moral standards and the present moral crisis of humanity as a prime reason of the recent financial crisis in Europe.

I discussed Kirill’s links with Belarus here, and his views on the “moral crisis” here.

The visit also reunited Kirill with Ephraim, Abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. According to Interfax, Ephraim

….praised Russia and called for global Orthodox unity.

“Even though it has been nearly a year and a half, our taking the Cincture of the Theotokos to Russia, the main relic of our monastery, is still fresh in our memory,” Ephraim said after a prayer service at Vatopedi on Thursday that he co-led with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.

Nearly 4 million people, including top Russian leaders, came to see the cincture and partake of its supposed miraculous powers while it was shown in various Russian cities between October 20 and November 28, 2011. It had been brought to Russia by Father Ephraim.

The “Cincture of the Theotokos” is a belt which believers say was worn by the Virgin Mary; I wrote about its background, and the tour of Russia, at the time. Its “miraculous powers”, according to Ephraim, relate to fertility; Vladimir Putin opined that “if this helps to solve our demographic issue, it is most welcome”, and he added:

…our efforts certainly show the bonds between our nations and will strengthen them. This will undoubtedly give an impetus for further development of the relations between our countries. Thank you very much.

A short while afterwards, Ephraim ran into trouble with the Greek authorities over some financial dealings.

Closer links between Russia and Greece are not confined just to Kirill’s religious diplomacy; as Greece sells off its assets to meet its financial obligations, Gazprom and Sintez have put in offers for Greek gas companies, and Russia’s state railway company has an eye on acquiring the Thessaloniki Port Authority.

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