MOSCOW: May 27, 2004


On May 27, the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia visited His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia at the Synodal residence of His Holiness, at Danilov Monastery in Moscow. The meeting was attended by the First Hierarchs of both parts of the one Russian Church, by His Eminence Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsa and Kolomensk and His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, and also all the clergymen accompanying Vladyka Laurus.

After lunch, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain were welcomed by President V.V. Putin of Russia at his private residence in Novo-Ogarevo. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy also attended the meeting, along with Metropolitan Juvenaly and Metropolitan Kirill.

In his greeting, President Putin noted: "I am very happy that the process of rapprochement of the two parts of the Russian Church is moving in a positive direction. I will not speak of two Churches, because in the mind of our people, the Russian Church is one. I derive great satisfaction from noting that after our meeting in New York, those clergymen who promote, defend and proselytize Orthodoxy outside of the borders of Russia visited the Russian Federation and saw with their own eyes the spiritual rebirth of our Fatherland.

"Still, the government under no circumstances intends to any form of intervention in matters of the Church. We are not prepared to and cannot influence the processes occurring in the Russian Orthodox Church, but we are ready in every way to cooperate in the establishment of conditions for the restoration of the unity of the Russian Church," he said.

"For us the process of rapprochement of the two parts of the Russian Church means more than simply the resolution of internal church problems. This is a symbol of the renascence of Russia and the unity of the Russian people."

Then His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia spoke, thanking His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, who he said provided an example of faith, piety and love towards the holy sites of the Fatherland.

In his response, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus said: "We are left with very good impressions: churches and monasteries are being reborn, great works of renovation are under way, divine services are being conducted. Not only is the external splendor being reborn, but spiritual wealth is being rebuilt."