By John-Henry Westen

MOSCOW, March 17, 2006 ( – In a letter made public yesterday, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexis II congratulated Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for his opposition to the ‘gay pride’ parade in Moscow. In the letter, the Patriarch said, “I was gratified to learn that you and the government of Moscow have approached this problem with civil responsibility not only for the present of our country, but also for its future.”

The news comes as the Vatican revealed communications between Pope Benedict XVI and the Patriarch, in which Alexis II wrote: “In our own times, with the rapid growth of secularism, Christianity finds itself facing important challenges that require a shared testimony.”

“I am convinced,” the Patriarch continued in his letter to the Pope, “that one of today’s priorities for our Churches, which have a shared vision of the many problems currently facing the modern world, must be the defense and affirmation in society of the Christian values by which humanity has lived for more than a millennium. I hope that the rapid resolution of outstanding problems between our two Churches will also contribute to this end.”

In his letter to the Moscow Mayor, Alexis explained the position of the Orthodox Church saying, “the Church has invariably supported the institution of the family and condemns untraditional relations, seeing them as a vicious deviation from God-given human nature.” He continued, “The Church treats people with such inclinations with pastoral responsibility urging them to reform and resolutely opposes any attempts to present this sinful tendency as a ‘norm’ and example to follow. The Church does not accept any propaganda for immorality.”

Addressing the mayor, Alexis II said, “please accept our gratitude for your decision to protect Moscow and Muscovites against attempts to organize a public parade of propaganda for sin. I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of our citizens are grateful to you and the Moscow government for your care for public morality.”