March 22, 2013
Participating in the talk were also Archbishop Niphon of Philippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, and Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox relations.
Patriarch Kirill welcomed the guest, saying, ‘We sympathize with the Syrian people and the Orthodox Church of Antioch. We know how painful it is for the heart when churches and monasteries are destroyed, when the very life is ruined and people perish. We pray that the Lord may show mercy and stop all these hostilities and that everyone may be protected’.
Expressing empathy for the Christian community in Syria, His Holiness said, ‘There is an outflow of the Christian population from the Middle East. It worries us very much because it can change the very nature of the Middle East where Christians have lived from the very beginning and made an enormous contribution to the development of the region’s culture. There can be no Middle East as we know it without Christian presence. For this reason, I would like to express our brotherly love and wholehearted support’.
His Holiness Kirill asked Metropolitan George to convey greetings to the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Antioch, saying, ‘I would like to convey through you my brotherly love to His Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch. He has ascended to the historic apostolic throne of Antioch at a difficult time. Our prayers go to him just as to all the bishops and devoted faithful of the Church of Antioch’.
Metropolitan John, on his part, thanked Patriarch Kirill, saying, ‘We have come in these days to receive a blessing from Your Holiness and to go through these difficult times through your deep faith and the faith of the people. His Holiness Patriarch John asked me to convey to you his love, prayers and fraternal greeting’.
Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan John discussed ways of giving humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and problems involved in inter-Orthodox relations.
Source: DECR Communication Service