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.
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.
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.
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]".
The fire has been extinguished in the Ganina Yama area in Yekaterinburg, where the remains of the family of Russia's last tsar Nicholas II were found. The area caught fire on Wednesday morning. The churches located on the territory of the near-by monastery were not damaged. Firefighters are currently clearing the debris, a spokesman for the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry's department for the Sverdlovsk region told Interfax.
Thousands of Orthodox Christians converged on Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Saturday to witness what they believe is the miraculous appearance of "holy fire" on the eve of Orthodox Easter.
The Old City was jammed with pilgrims from the Eastern Orthodox faiths including Greeks, Copts, Russians and Assyrians, seeking to reach the church, one of Christianity's holiest sites.