Christian Resurgence in Russia? Patriarch Kirill Leads Day of Prayer in Moscow
There is a growing resurgence of the Orthodox Christian faith in Russia
There is a growing recognition that there is more that joins theologically faithful Catholics and theologically faithful Orthodox than that which separates us. The cultural decline compels our collaboration in Christ. It is leading us to a growing mutual respect which may pave the way toward some form of restored communion. Patriarch Kirill sees the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as "sister churches". That is a welcome sign of the work of the Holy Spirit. We ask our readers around the globe to pray for the Patriarch and for Christians in Russia.
Patriarch Kirill and Pope Benedict XVI
MOSCOW (Catholic Online) - We welcomed the selection of Patriarch Kirill as the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in 2009. It was the first election of a Patriarch since the fall of the atheist Communist regime which governed the former Soviet Union for so many years. We, along with millions the world over, hoped it was a sign of the revitalization of the ancient faith in this critical time in history.
Patriarch Kirill is theologically and doctrinally solid - said to be a man of deep faith and courage. He is a champion of the authentic Orthodox Christian Tradition and a stalwart defender of the doctrine of the ancient Christian Faith of the First Millennium - before the first split in the Church occurred.
He is outspoken in his concern over the moral decline in Russian, European and broader western culture. He is also dedicated to doing something about it - leading a resurgence of authentic Christianity and a new missionary undertaking to Russian culture.
In an insightful analysis written for Catholic Online shortly after the Patriarchs enthronement entitled Patriarch Kirill & Pope Benedict: A Tale of Two Leaders for a new Missionary Age Orthodox priest Fr Johannes L. Jacobse, the editor of Orthodoxy Today and President of the American Orthodox Institute opined,
"Patriarch Kirill is a theological conservative in the mold of Pope Benedict. Both see religion as the wellspring of culture. Both understand that Europe cannot escape a final capitulation to tyranny if it does not rediscover its Christian roots."
Since his enthronement, Patriarch Kirill has offered his voice of clarity and authority to the growing Catholic and Orthodox critique of the decline of moral values and the hostility of the contemporary culture toward the Church. He openly decries the growing rejection of Christian influence throughout the world. He warns of the the dangers that such a rejection present to civilization and authentic freedom.
Patriarch Kirill has repeatedly called upon Orthodox Christians to be actively involved in reclaiming the culture with the values informed by the ancient faith. Shortly after his selection, the Patriarch noted that, "in the Vatican and not only in the Vatican but all over the world, Catholics understand that Orthodox (people) are their allies. And Orthodox (people) are more and more coming to understand that Catholics are their allies in the face of hostile and non-religious secularism."
His first message to the faithful - and to the world as millions watched by television and internet - emphasized his commitment to reaching out to the young, his dedication to working with those whom he called the "sister churches" and his strong intention to combat "moral relativism". The elements of that message echoed much in the mission of Pope Benedict XVI.
One of many signs of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Third Christian Millennium is the rediscovery between Orthodox and Catholic Christians of our common Baptismal bond as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. I am numbered among a growing number who believe that the Holy Spirit is gathering a movement of Orthodox and Catholic Christians to collaborate in this critical hour.
There is a growing recognition that there is more that joins theologically faithful Catholics and theologically faithful Orthodox than that which separates us. The urgency of the cultural decline compels our collaboration in Christ. It is also leading us to a growing mutual respect which may pave the way toward some form of restored communion.
Polls in Russia indicated that only 5 percent of Russians were observant in the practice of their Orthodox Christian faith when the Patriarch was enthroned. Less than 30 percent expressed their commitment to following the moral teaching of the Church.
The Patriarchs' call for exposing this moral disintegration and remedying its effects on Russian culture through a resurgence of the faith shows how much the new Patriarch shares with his brother, Pope Benedict XVI. The growing resurgence of the Orthodox faith indicates his work is bearing fruit.
Patriarch Kirill has faced opposition within the Orthodox Church for his dialogue with the Catholic Church. However, he has showed no sign of retreat, particularly in joint efforts aimed at stemming the growing spread of the culture of death and the sordid fruit of moral relativism. Before he was elevated to the Patriarchate, he was responsible for dialogue with the Holy See. he has continued that dialogue.
Pope Benedict XVI sent an especially meaningful gift to the new Patriarch when he ...
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