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Russian Church Hosts Major Conference to Discuss Russia’s Future

Christianity plays a major role in influencing Russian politics and society

This is a fascinating insight into how Christian values and the Russian church itself directly influences Russian society and how the country sees itself.

The organization, called The World Russian People’s Council, (Wikipedia) was conceived of by the current Patriarch in the 1990s - with the goal of bringing together and uniting Russians from all over the world who were scattered over many different countries - to gather and discuss all issues of importance to Russian people everywhere.

In Russian, the name has a different connotation than in English. The Russian word ‘sobor’, can be translated as ‘council’, but it also means a gathering, a bringing together, a unifying, and finally, sobor is also the word for ‘cathedral’, with its spiritual atmosphere. There is no English word which brings together all the powerful emotions implied in the Russian ‘sobor’, and the legalistic ‘council’ doesn’t even come close, and this highlights the difficulty in translating between Russian and English.

It was held in the enormous, plush new luxury conference center which is part of the Christ the Savior Cathedral complex in Moscow, Russia's largest and most important cathedral, reconstructed in 2000 after being destroyed by Stalin in 1931.

The event, hosted by Kirill, the head of the Russian church, was attended by Russia’s top politicians. The main issues discussed were how Russia as a society should manage relations between its many nationalities, what Russia’s national values should be, and how to convey these values through the education system.

Putin sent a letter that struck a tone which would have been welcome with US and European social conservatives:

"Drawing upon our national, moral, and spiritual heritage is our only way to advance,"

The focus of all this is how to keep Russians united despite their many racial, cultural, and religious differences.

The ‘soft power’ of the Russian church to influence domestic and global affairs was on full display at this conference. The West has no analog among its various denominations, because none of them can claim to represent a nation the way the Russian church can.

The event received heavy coverage in the national media. Here is a segment about it from the evening news. (full transcript follows)


Full transcript: (Exclusive to Russian Faith)

Anchor:

The outlook for Russian development in the current century determined by its history was discussed in Moscow.

The Christ the Savior Cathedral hosted the World Russian People's Council.

"Drawing upon our national, moral, and spiritual heritage is our only way to advance," reads Putin's message to the Russian Patriarch and the participants of the forum.

Correspondent: 

The World Russian People's Council is a major forum where there are no barriers for Russian-speaking people to communicate.

The Council gathers representatives of all the branches of power, high clergy from traditional religions, political, cultural and scientific luminaries, as well as delegates of the Russian communities abroad, from near and far.

Correspondent:

The council bears great importance for those who live far apart but still feel the spiritual bond despite the distance.

During the opening ceremony the Russian Patriarch Kirill says that Russia, unlike other nations, managed to overcome the internal division and step back from the brink of the abyss.
According to the Patriarch: 

Patriarch Kirill, Head of Russian Church:

"It's especially important now when the world is on the verge of creating artificial intelligence and achieving artificial immortality for the chosen ones."

Modern technologies capable of creating artificial intelligence and organs lead us away from the primary Christian way, which in the end would mean dehumanization and grotesque individualization that leads to the destruction of our society and puts an end to our history."

Correspondent:

The First Deputy Chief of Staff, Sergey Kiriyenko, reads the Russian President's welcome letter in which Putin claims that by preserving our historical heritage, our moral and spiritual basis, is the only way to advance.

Russia in the 21st century, historical experience and outlook for development is the main topic of the discussion.

Vyacheslav Volodin, State Duma Chairman:

"Our country has chosen the path of creation and peace. The revolutionary turmoils, including the ones in our neighboring countries, are viewed negatively and are definitely not an example to be repeated."

Sergey Mironov, Head of "A Just Russia" party:

"The Russian Revolution was a catastrophe for our nation. There were some great accomplishments. But, the price that Russia and the people paid for the Revolution was too high. There should be no more revolutions on our land."

Correspondent:

Revolutions are always aimed to create a new people, to break old traditions, and to reforge them. But the fight against religion and culture is a dead end.

Gennady Zyuganov, Head of the Communist Party of Russia:

"For the last 25 years the Council has been crucial for the unity of the people who are concerned with our great power, our spirituality, who understand that only if we're united, can we overcome the systemic crisis."

Correspondent:

But a forum is primarily an exchange of views.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party:

 "On January 1, 1913 Russia was not a backwards nation. And if it wasn't for the Revolution, the Russian army together with France's and Britain's armies would have guarded Germany and there would have been no Nazis and no World War II."

Correspondent:

The World Russian People's Council has been gathering for 25 years. 25 years of constructive dialogue where the truth is born from arguments.