On July 26, the Pope and Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria arrived in Moscow to participate in the solemnities of the 1,030th anniversary of the baptism of Russia.
The primate was greeted at the Domodedovo airport by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Metropolitan Arseny of Istrinsk, the First Vicar of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan Athanasios of Cyrene, the Representative of the Patriarch of Alexandria at the Patriarchal Throne of Moscow, Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, the Secretary of the Department for External Church Relations, and representatives of the clergy of Moscow.
Metropolitan Damascene of Johannesburg and Archimandrite Daniel (Biazis) were accompanying the patriarch. Talking with reporters at the airport, the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria said that he had come many times to Moscow and that he was happy to have been invited by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to participate in the solemnities honoring the 1,030th anniversary of the baptism of Russia, “a great event that took place thanks to prince Vladimir, equal of the apostles”.
According to the primate , his participation in this event witnesses to the friendship that has been binding the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Moscow for many centuries. “The goal of my presence is to show that we are together, that we are standing side by side with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and with the entire Russian Orthodox Church,” said the Pope and Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria. “We are one Orthodox family, and along the centuries, it has become clear that Orthodoxy is becoming stronger, that it can deliver its message to the world,” said also the Patriarch, who added that “while there are millions of faithful in the Russian Orthodox Church, we in Africa are experiencing the first apostolic times of the Church, so to speak, and we are preaching the Gospel to people who did not yet know Christ. All together, we are one Orthodox family and we have to keep unity to be real witnesses”.
Answering questions from media representatives, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, highlighted the following: “The celebration of the 1,030th anniversary of the baptism of Russia reminds us of our common origins, namely, the baptismal fonts of the Dnieper for St. Prince Vladimir, where the Russian Orthodox Church was born, and from which a single people was born. It is now divided into three, but it has kept its unity. And the guarantee of this unity is the Russian Orthodox Church, which unites millions of faithful in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other contiguous states, as well as a large number of faithful scattered throughout the world. It unites them in a spiritual and cultural space that goes beyond human boundaries and human divisions”.
The archpriest also highlighted the profound influence of the adoption of Christianity on the worldview, on the moral dimension of the people, and on the Russian culture. “It is hard to imagine what the history of Russia would be, if it would even have a history, if Prince Vladimir had not made this decisive choice. It is difficult to imagine what would be the culture of Russia if there were no Russian Christianity, said Metropolitan Hilarion, mentioning that “the best examples of Russian culture are imbued with Christian spirit ” .
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