Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan promised democratic reforms on Saturday in a rare meeting with Turkey's religious minority leaders highlighting the issue of minority rights, a key stumbling block in its EU membership bid.
Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and leaders of the small Armenian, Jewish, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic communities had lunch with Erdogan and senior ministers on Buyukada island near Istanbul, a patriarchate official told Reuters on condition his name not be used.
On August 3, the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill during his visit to Sevastopol stressed the importance of the work of orthodox clergymen in the Russian army. Kirill stated that the modern soldier must be "strong in spirit" and emphasized the importance of spiritual support for servicemen, noting that, "for warriors to be capable of that [sacrificing their lives], we must support them with our prayers, while clergymen should be working with the armed forces," he explained (Interfax, August 3).
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I, a spiritual leader who represents Eastern Orthodox Christianity, has called for the creation of a churches' umbrella body in Europe to include Roman Catholics alongside Anglicans, Orthodox and Protestants.
"It is only by engaging in dialogue and by closely cooperating that the churches will prove capable of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to the world in a convincing and effective way," the Orthodox leader said in a 19 July address in Lyon, France to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Conference of European Churches.
The United Russia political party plans to involve the Moscow Patriarchate in legislative work. "We agreed we would show the Patriarchate the State Duma's plan for legislative work and hold preliminary consultations on all questions that may raise doubts to avoid mutual misunderstanding," Deputy Secretary of the Party's General Council Presidium and Head of the State Duma Labor and Social Policy Committee Andrey Isayev told Interfax-Religion.
Russian Orthodox Church predicts decline of the Western prosperity and the fall of capitalism before long8. July 2009 - 13:01
Western Civilization will soon witness its decline, unless it begins to recover its lost Christian heritage, believes the Moscow Patriarchate.
"The society living only for the sake of mundane interests of individuals is bound for failure, and capitalism will fall in a few coming decades in just the same way as communism and Nazism fell in their due course," head of the Synodal Church and Society Department Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin is quoted as saying on the website of Orthodox society Radonezh.
There has not been any substantial moment in the Orthodox-Catholic dialog, said Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk.
"It appears to me that the relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches still lack the specifics which could be interpreted as the opening of a new page. We are still expecting the Catholic Church to give some articulate and adequate response the concerns we have voiced on many occasions," Archbishop Hilarion told a press conference at the Interfax head office on Tuesday.