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Russian Church calls for bigger protection of Christians worldwide by EU

The European Union should give better protection to Christians worldwide, Russian Church Representative to European International Organizations, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria said at a Monday meeting between EU officials and European religious leaders in Brussels. "Tolerance should not cause detriment to Christians, who still make up the majority of the European population. Phobia and discrimination of Christians should be condemned officially," he said.

Moscow wants to join restoration of Kosovo Orthodox monuments - Foreign Ministry

The Russian Foreign Ministry is weighing up a plan to help in the restoration of Orthodox monuments in Kosovo. "The Russian president has instructed the Foreign Ministry to come up with a plan to help in the restoration of Orthodox monuments in Kosovo under a UNESCO project, and make funds available for this project," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Medvedev: Special relations with Orthodox Church will be maintained

Special relations between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church will be kept and further developed, President Dmitry Medvedev has said. After conducting a prayer "For the Beginning of the Lofty Endeavor" in the Kremlin's Cathedral of the Annunciation, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia conveyed good wishes to the newly sworn-in head of state.

"The Church is ready to continue cooperating [with the state], since we have one Fatherland, one history and one future," Alexy II said.

Marmara Foundation conference

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos addressed the annual conference of the Marmara Foundation in Istanbul on Sunday, calling on all believers in God to interpret their faith in a way that promotes "divine volition".

"All who believe in the living God are called on to interpret their faith in a way that promotes the divine desire and to enjoy all the fruits of the earth fairly, without dealing blows to each other and without abusing the planet's resources," the Patriarch said.

Georgian Orthodox Church calls for nonuse of force against Abkhazia, South Ossetia

Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia Ilia II has called for a resolution of the problems between Georgia, Abkhaz and South Ossetia solely through a peaceful dialogue."The Georgian Orthodox Church has always tried and will continue to try to restore confidence between Georgians, Abkhazians and South Ossetians, so that their co-habitation in a single legal and territorial space is possible," Ilia II said in an address delivered at the St. Trinity Cathedral.

Austria reminds Ankara of the need for full religious freedom

The Austrian foreign minister, Ursula Plassnik, used the opportunity of a visit to Turkey to pay homage to ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I, and to express her support for him: the patriarch, she maintained, contributes tirelessly, both personally and through his office, to the promotion of interreligious dialogue, to the reinforcement of better understanding among human beings, and in his effort to build a world where everyone can live without fear, practice his religion freely, or live without any religious creed. "I think this is how the conception of religious freedom should be interpreted, as it must be guaranteed in the social life of the EU. Religious freedom is one of the presuppositions for the whole of Europe's values and ideals. It is part of the negotiations for countries asking to enter [the European Union]".