On August 23, 2010, representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church visited Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where they met with Mr Guillermo Oliveri, the Secretary for Religious Affairs.
The Church’s delegation included His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Yegorievsk, Head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Administration of Institutions Abroad; His Grace Bishop John of Caracas and South America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; Hegumen Filipp (Ryabykh), Vice President of the Department of External Church Relations; Hegumen Pavel (Khokhlov), Secretary of the South American Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, and Priest Sergei Zvonarev, Secretary of the DECR on the Far Abroad. Also in attendance at the meeting was Mr IV Romanchenko, Acting Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in Argentina, along with the Warden of St Seraphim Church in Bogota, Colombia, and Ms LI Gorbatova serving as interpreter.
Mr Oliveri warmly welcomed his guests to Argentinian soil, and was pleased to report that the country is host to parishes of a series of Orthodox Churches—those of the Constantinople, Antiochian and Russian Patriarchates. He told the visitors of the work of the Secretariat of Religious Affairs in the country and the principles of the state’s relations with religious groups.
Archbishop Mark, in turn, thanked the Mr Oliveri and described the role the Russian Orthodox Church plays in contemporary society. Referring to the situation of the Diocese of Argentina and South America, he noted: “Though our presence in Argentina does not enjoy a long history, the Russian Church plays a stabilizing role in the nation. Russia is sympathetic with Latin America. The people who live here have a great heart, they have emotion and a sense of justice.”
Vladyka Mark then discussed his wish that order be introduced to church life in Argentina, and expressed hope that representatives of the Argentinian state, while preserving respect for freedom of conscience, would cooperate in the search for ways and means of achieving church unity.
Hegumen Filipp added: “We are trying to develop friendly relations between our peoples. Russia and Latin America share a common Christian legacy. We live according to the same set of values, and we share common positions on social and family morals, a similar attitude towards work and economic ethics. We hope that friendship will help us find ways of joint cooperation in the contemporary world,” concluded Fr Filipp.
Mr Oliveri expressed interest in religious life in Russia, the number of Orthodox believers in the country, the direction in which the relationship between the Church and the state is heading, and interfaith dialog in the Russian Federation.
In conclusion, the Secretary of Religious Affairs was given a Spanish-language translation of a book by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill titled “Freedom and Responsibility: in Search of Harmony. The Rights of Man and Dignity of Personality,” as well as the documents “Bases of the Teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church on Dignity, Freedom and the Rights of Man,” “Compendium of Moral Principles and Rules in Administration,” in English.
Later that day, the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate visited Holy Trinity Cathedral, whose clergymen did not accept the Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia signed in 2007. Priest Alejandro Iwasjewicz showed the visitors the Cathedral, the oldest Russian Church in Latin America, having been consecrated in 1901. Afterwards, a meeting was held with the Cathedral Rector, Protopriest Valentin Iwasjewicz. Representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate told them about the recent round table on the cooperation of the Church and Russians abroad, and about church life in Russia. The clergymen who rejected the 2007 Act in response expressed a willingness to discuss the matter of church unity.
That evening, at the invitation of Mr Romanchenko, Acting Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in Argentina, the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church attended a reception at the Russian Embassy to Argentina. The event was in celebration of the end of the “Compatriots and the Russian Orthodox Church: Experiences in Cooperation in Latin America” round table, held on August 22-23 in Buenos Aires.
Department of External Church Relations