Patriarch Alexy II: ‘The bridges between East and West’

Message to the participants of the First European Russian Forum “The Russian-speaking community and its role in the relations between Russia and the EU”, October 1-2, 2007, Brussels.

We are pleased to greet the participants of the First European Russian Forum, which will consider issues concerning the life of the Russian-speaking community in Europe and its role in the relations between the EU and Russia.

In the beginning of the 21st century a large diaspora of our compatriots has emerged in the countries of Western and Central Europe. For several generations now, many Russians have been living in countries of what is now the European Union, cherishing their own religion and culture.

The Church is the guardian of not only the faith but also our language, culture, sense of brotherhood and mutual aid among Russians.

The Russian Orthodox Church has always sought to unite the Russians, who, because of predicaments of fate, have found themselves living outside the borders of their motherland. The Church remains the unfaltering guardian, not just of faith but also of our language, culture, sense of brotherhood and mutual aid among Russians scattered all over the world. Unfortunately the tragic events of the last century brought about several divisions within our diaspora. But today we rejoice that with God’s help the reunification of the Church Abroad and with the Moscow Patriarchate in a special way helps our compatriots to find full “unity of Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4.3)

The Russian civilization has always seen itself as one of the bridges between East and West. Based on the truths of Orthodox Christianity, it also constitutes a unique space for different beliefs, cultures and traditions to coexist. We are convinced that this experience is called for more than ever in today’s Europe where we see attempts to bring together people from different cultures and ways of life. Each national-cultural and religious community has the right to participate fully in the life of society, to make its influence on its present and future. I beg you to keep this in mind and not to feel embarrassed to talk about it.

Regardless of the existing differences, all “waves” of Russian emigration to Europe are seen as one entity. However, it still has no uniform and united, generally recognized organizational structures. Knowing this, let us remember the warning from the Holy Scriptures “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Mt. 12.25)

I hope that the Forum will help consolidate the Russian-speaking community through a more consistent defense of its interests, developing its contribution to the life in various countries and strengthening ties with the motherland.

I wish the participants in the Forum fruitful deliberations of the topics before you. May your thoughts and words be invigorated by profound belief, hope for a better future, God’s love, and love for the motherland and each other. The blessing of the Lord be with you all.

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