— Your Eminence, how are we to view the long-awaited reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which took place on May 17, 2007?
— I must say that the spiritual unity of the Russian people of the Church in the Fatherland and the diaspora had never ceased.
By Divine mercy, the godless Communist regime in our Fatherland has finally fallen, and, consequently, the main reason which divided Orthodox Christians was eliminated. But church unity is a gift from God, which we must still earn. Let us not hide the fact that we are not of one mind in all things, and still, in the spirit of brotherly love we try to overcome our differences.
The important thing is that now we can with one mouth and one heart glorify Christ and serve His One Church.
— Where do you see as the practical side of the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church? What is your opinion of the programs dedicated to the historic reunification, in particular "Under the Star of the Theotokos"?
— It is said that faith without works is dead. That is why practical deeds are very important, practical witness of our faith. For this reason, of course, I am very supportive of the processions of the cross within the framework of the program "Under the Star of the Theotokos," which I learned of not long ago.
The organizers of the program addressed me with the request to give them an icon to use in the processions. We chose for this an icon of St John (Maximovich) of Shanghai and San Francisco—a remarkable saint of our time, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. I instructed our brother Monk Vsevolod (Filipiev) to hand over the icon during the event organized to honor the canonical unity of the Russian Church organized by the Russian Diaspora Fund in November of this year.
As Monk Vsevolod told me after returning from Moscow, the handover took place amid great spiritual elevation. People prayed and venerated our icon of St John, which is now traveling in a procession of the cross through the immense expanses of our Mother Russia.
— The Russian Church Abroad cherishes the holy items connected to the Royal Martyrs. What do you feel is the podvig of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers?
— It is true that the dioceses and churches of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia possess many holy items and relics connected with the Royal Martyrs. In particular, our Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville has icons and personal possessions owned by the Royal Family.
The podvig of the Holy Royal Martyrs is the crown of the entire podvig in general of the Russian New Martyrs and Confessors of the 20 th century. For us and for our descendants it is an example of Christian heroism, courage and devotion, and moreover—an example of self-sacrifice for ones neighbor.
— We hope for future joint efforts for the good of the Russian Orthodox Church, and we beseech your prayers. What do you wish for the organizers and participants of the processions of the cross of the "Under the Star of the Theotokos" program?
— I wish the organizers and participants of this wonderful event staunchness of spirit and determination within Christ, for it is clear that this good work cannot be left untouched by attack by the spirits of hatred.
I also hope that you remember that external acts are confirmation of inner spiritual efforts and so we cannot forget personal repentance and prayer.
May these processions of the cross travel not only across Russia, but if possible in the lands of the Russian Diaspora, and may the participants of these processions be worthy witnesses of the vitality, strength and unity of Russian Orthodoxy throughout the world.