The official delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church accompanying His Holiness includes Metropolitan Varsonofiy of Saransk and Mordovia, chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate; Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR); Bishop Sergiy of Solnechnogorsk, head of the Administrative Secretariat of the Moscow Patriarchate; archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Synodal Department for Church-State Relations; Mr. Vladimir Legoida, chairman of the Synodal Information Department; archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR deputy chairman; archimandrite Savva (Tutunov), deputy chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate; archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox relations; protodeacon Vladimir Nazarkin, assistant to the DECR chairman; Mr. Mikhail Kuksov, acting head of the Patriarch’s personal secretariat.
The Russian Orthodox Church has received with pain the news of a new extremists’s attack against the Orthodox Church of Serbia in the Province of Kosovo.
This time the blashemists attacked the Church of St. Michael in Štimlje. The church building was looted and desecrated. Unidentified vandals damaged fragments of the murals and knocked off paint from the countenances of the saints. Garbage, sewage and dead birds were put within the church building.
The Church of St. Michael was built in Štimlje and decorated by the famous Serbian artist Uroš Predić (1857-1953). In August 1999, the anti-Christian minded extremists set fire to the church, and the iconostasis was destroyed. During 2004, and in the course of the anti-Serbian pogroms in March in particular, it was not once that the foes of the Church set the church building on fire, desecrated it and disfigured the countenances of the saints depicted on church walls.
In 2009, the restoration work began with UNESCO assistance. However, the recent incident compels us to state with regret that the attitude of certain residents of the Province of Kosovo remains as intolerant as it used to be in the past.
Testifying to this attitude is an assault against the Orthodox monk Mitrofan (Bulajić) by some residents of Kosovska Mitrovica on 13 June 2012. He was admitted to a surgery with injuries to his head and arm.
Police of the self-proclaimed republic were not able to prevent either the beating up of the monk, or the act of vandalism in Štimlje. Repeated attacks of the extremists against churches, priests, monks and laymen of the Serbian Orthodox Churches in Kosovo and Metohija cause grave concern in the Russian Orthodox Church as they show the lack of effective measures aimed at their protection by the forces of international presence in the province.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Christopher, Archbishop of Prague and Primate of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, will begin a two week visit to the Diocese of Alaska on July 28, 2012.
The visit will mark the second time a Primate of one of the world’s autocephalous Orthodox Churches has visited the Diocese. In 1993, His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow visited the Diocese and participated in celebrations marking the opening of the Bicentennial of Orthodox Christianity in North America.
On 24 July 2012, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, arrived at the Patriarchal and Synodal Spiritual, Administrative and Cultural Centre of the Russian Orthodox Church in the south of Russia at the invitation of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
At the Centre, the Primates of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Russian Orthodox Church will hold a number of working meetings and discuss various issues of mutual relations and Pan-Orthodox cooperation.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill greeted His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II and noted that he was very glad to meet the Primate of the ancient See of Alexandria and that he looked forward to the upcoming fraternal talks. “Your visit will give us an opportunity to share our opinions on various issues on the agenda of the Orthodox Churches. Recalling my visit to the Church of Alexandria, I will always remember how cordially I was received on the African continent. Welcome, dear brother!”, – said His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
On July 22, 2012, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti at the official Patriarchal and Synodal Residence at the St. Daniel Monastery in Moscow. Mr Monti is on his first official visit to the Russian Federation.