MOSCOW, August 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Vladimir Putin has urged the world’s political leaders to stop the violent persecutions against Christians that have erupted in many Middle Eastern countries.
Speaking at a meeting with Orthodox Christian leaders in Moscow last week, the Russian President said he noted “with alarm” that “in many of the world’s regions, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa inter-confessional tensions are mounting, and the rights of religious minorities are infringed, including Christians and Orthodox Christians.”
“This pressing problem should be a subject of close attention for the entire international community,” Putin said. “It is especially important today to make efforts to prevent intercultural and interreligious conflicts, which are fraught with the most serious upheavals.”
Putin praised the growth of cooperation between the Orthodox Churches and the Russian state, saying, “We act as genuine partners and colleagues to solve the most pressing domestic and international tasks, to implement joint initiatives for the benefit of our country and people.”
The Russian Federation recently passed legislation making it illegal to promote homosexuality as normal, a move that, while condemned by many European leaders, was strongly supported by the Orthodox Church.
Putin added Thursday that the Church was giving Russians a moral compass when so many were looking for help. “Today when people are once again searching for moral support, millions of our compatriots see it in religion,” he said. “They trust the wise, pastoral word of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
He added that it was the Church that was ultimately responsible for the development and rise of “culture and education” in Russia over the last 1,000 years. “The adoption of Christianity became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland, made it an inseparable part of the Christian civilization and helped it turn into one of the largest world powers,” Putin said.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said at the same meeting that the attempts to push Christians out of Syria would lead to a “civilization catastrophe.” Kirill and other Orthodox leaders have been critical of the lack of response to the crisis facing Christians in the Middle East by US and other Western leaders.
The meeting was held with the leaders of all 15 Orthodox Churches to commemorate the 1,025th anniversary of the “Baptism of Russia” – the official adoption of Christianity and establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kievan Rus by Prince Vladimir in 988 A.D.
Orthodox leaders at the meeting also condemned the growing secularist suppression of Christian freedoms in non-Muslim countries like Britain, where “gay marriage” has just been created.
Metropolitan Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox Church’s chief ecumenical officer, said “secularization in disguise of democratization” is leading Western nations toward totalitarianism. He spoke of a “powerful energy today [that] strives to finally break with Christianity, which controlled its totalitarian impulses during 17 centuries.”
Metropolitan Hilarion said, “Eventually, it unconsciously strives to set up an absolute dictatorship that demands total control over each member of society. Don’t we move to it when ‘for the sake of security’ we agree to obligatory electronic passports, dactyloscopy [fingerprint identification] for everyone, and photo cameras occurring everywhere?”
He highlighted the attempt to create same-sex “marriage” in France, which he called an attempt to make “immorality normal,” saying, that the French government has “consciously and demonstratively ignored demands of people and used tear gas to disperse them.”
Later, at a reception in Kiev, Putin and Patriarch Kirill took part in a prayer service with Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. He urged the leaders of Ukraine to turn towards a greater unity with Russia, and away from its overtures to the European Union, citing a natural cultural and spiritual relationship that is not present with the heavily secularist EU.
Patriarch Kirill added that it is the Orthodox religion that creates genuine unity between Slavic peoples. “Our ancestors adopted the Christian faith and, together with it, a system of values and morals…that no historical upheavals were able to destroy,” he said. Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians have a shared spiritual foundation that unites them more than their national boundaries divide them.
Patriarch Kirill said of the same-sex “marriage” fad sweeping the Western world, “This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything so that sin is never validated by the laws of the state in the lands of Holy Rus, because this would mean that the people are starting on the path of self-destruction.”
Today, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, blasted the Russian government for its law banning gay propaganda, calling it “hateful.”
Baird said that the Canadian delegation was among those governments that tried to dissuade the Russian leadership not to adopt the law that outlaws all attempts to normalize homosexuality or other forms of non-traditional sexuality, especially to children.
“This mean-spirited and hateful law will affect all Russians 365 days of the year, every year. It is an incitement to intolerance, which breeds hate. And intolerance and hate breed violence,” Baird told the Canadian Press today.
The comments follow an announcement by Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, who said the law would be enforced against athletes and visitors to Russia during next year’s winter Olympic games.