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MOSCOW: February 22, 2008
Opening Speech of Metropolitan Laurus at Orthodox St Tikhon Humanitarian University

Eminence archpastors, reverend fathers, dear in Christ brothers and sisters:

Raising praise and gratitude to our Lord and Savior for the great and wondrous good and mercies poured out upon the entire Russian Orthodox Church, I feel it is my duty to express heartfelt thanks to the Reverend Rector, the teachers and students of the Orthodox St Tikhon Humanitarian University, who are studying the latest period of the history of our Church. They are helping to find common ground and ways to reestablish the fullness of brotherly communion within the Local Russian Orthodox Church. We have great sympathy and good will for the tireless efforts of the teachers who work here and the students, the future workers in the Vineyard of Christ. This love for our common history inspires and strengthens the relationship between the faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Fatherland and in the diaspora, and I believe that genuinely fraternal cooperation and friendly relations will further tighten the bonds between us, and will bring great benefits.

The Russian Orthodox Church came together upon the bones of the New Martyrs and Confessors who suffered from the godless persecutions. We now have a great and glorious host of new sufferers. Infants and children, the elderly and the adults, princes and simple folk, men and women, bishops and parish priests, monks and laymen, Royal Passion-bearers and their subjects have formed a great host of many millions of martyrs of Russia, the glory and splendor of our Russian Orthodox Church. Our main task is to proclaim this glory, to preach the faith, the courage, staunchness and patience of our martyrs, who planted a seed in our souls, in the spirit of our people, who now bear the fruits of spiritual rebirth.

We must help to develop and strengthen these fruits in every way, we must unite our educational institutions, and service to the Church, with prayer to the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, with veneration of their memory and imitation of their faith.

May Divine blessings visit all of you, and may the heavenly intercession of our New Martyrs and Confessors be with us, may they tend to our renewal. May peace and love increase among all of us! Amen.

During the discussion that followed, matters such as Orthodox witness in the West and parish life abroad were touched upon, as well as the specifics of parish life that helps preserve old Russian piety and culture abroad. The experiences of establishing the parish family, says Vladyka Gabriel of Manhattan, is the "talent that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia can bring to the rebirth and churchification of the Russian people."

Vladyka Laurus noted that the matter of reestablishing unity after the official signing of the Act of Canonical Communion is continuing: there are joint services, delegations from abroad visit Russia, and groups of Russians visit parishes abroad. This movement is helping strengthen internal church unity towards which the Russian Orthodox Church always strove.

In response to a question on the self-proclamation of independence of Kosovo, Bishop Peter of Cleveland stated: "I was born in the USA and am grateful to America, which gave me a great deal. But unfortunately, the West does not understand either the Russians or the Slavs. I speak openly about this despite the fact that I love the country I was born in. I do not know how to explain it, but I think that the West senses its spiritual bankruptcy in the face of Orthodox Christianity. The West fears Russian patriotism and Slavic unity."