The head of the Russian Orthodox Church said, "when it comes to Orthodox families, and cases where the Church can vouch for someone, then I think we could start some negotiations with the authorities, so that such people could quickly fulfill their dreams and settle in Russia."
During the question and answer session afterwards, an Orthodox priest from America asked whether the Russian Church can provide assistance to Orthodox Christians immigrating to Russia.
The Patriarch's response can be found in the video below, and also in the video transcript.
Greetings, your Holiness,
I am Fr. Joseph Gleason, an Orthodox priest from America. I serve as a pligrim assisting in Rostov Veliky, just 200 kilometers north of Moscow, and I am the editor for the news website, Russian Faith.
Two years ago, my wife and eight children and I left America and moved to Russia, to Rostov.
In the past two years, many people in Western Europe and America have been intrigued, and have come to visit us in Rostov, because they too are considering moving to Russia. Like us, they see many moral crises in their home countries, and they see Russia as a better place to raise their families.
But they are intimidated by the very difficult paperwork and bureaucratic processes that a foreigner must go through, to immigrate to Russia.
Would it be possible for the Russian Orthodox Church to make a request of the Russian Government, to simplify the immigration process, to help people who are leaving their home countries and are coming to Russia because of moral crises like these? — Because, these are our brothers and sisters who are Orthodox Christians!
Of course, the topic of immigration, of foreign citizens arriving in Russia — it is not a simple topic.
Immigrants come to Russia from many different countries, and of course most of them are not Orthodox Christians, and therefore no, I don’t think the church can take the initiative to change or to simplify the citizenship process, in general. Nor can we change the process for entering Russia, for those who are seeking citizenship.
But what you are talking about, Orthodox Christians leaving the United States — it is a completely different category. People who want to come to Russia and live in Russia because of their Faith, this is a completely different category, and I don't think it is a mass phenomenon. So, I am not able to answer your question in general.
However, I would like to say that in particular cases, the church could take part, in order to make the immigration process as easy as possible, to the extent that the church is able to influence the situation.
So when it comes to Orthodox priests, and when it comes to Orthodox families, and cases where the Church can vouch for someone, then I think we could start some negotiations with the authorities, so that such people could quickly fulfill their dreams and settle in Russia.
Although what I am saying now is not an official statement, since I am simply listening and thinking, I hope we can work with the relevant state authorities whenever we receive such requests.