Putin: "The Russian Orthodox Church should be given tremendous credit for the fact that Russia was preserved and conflicts were prevented from resulting in a new civil schism"
Moscow, December 2, Interfax - The state expects further cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church while respecting its independence, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"While offering autonomy and independence to the Church, the state expects the continuation of our cooperation in important fields such as education and healthcare, preserving cultural and historical heritage, supporting families and mentoring young people, fighting against social afflictions," Putin said at the Bishops' Council in Moscow.
The Russian Orthodox Church's selfless mission has no borders and its canonical territory spreads outside Russian borders, he said.
"You do a lot to support our compatriots and Orthodox Christian communities abroad, strengthen mutual confidence, develop cultural, spiritual, human ties which connect us," Putin said.
He commended the efforts of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and other clerics willing to help "in resolving key issues of the development of the country and society."
"From the perspective of centuries of experience of Orthodox Christianity and the Christian civilization," they "directly and honestly voice their view on processes" ongoing both in Russia and the world in general, he said.
New technologies and the global space have a tremendous influence on the daily life of people in all countries and provide colossal, truly limitless opportunities, Putin said.
This poses the enormous task of making all that serve only the good, he said.
"Today we see how the erosion of traditional values in many countries which leads to degradation, mutual alienation in the society, depersonalization of people. Indifference and insensitivity, loss of values result in an increase of radicalism, xenophobia, religious conflicts. Egotism, destroying people, turns into aggressive nationalism. Extremists and ideologies of terrorism, enemies of progress and the whole of civilization fill the spiritual void," Putin said.
Putin recalled Russia's special role in the end of the 20th century, when social and economic transformation occurred.
"When many state and public institutions were weakened, when life changed radically, it was the church that supported people, gave hope, helped find spiritual and vital guidance, and called for accord and unity. The Russian Orthodox Church should be given tremendous credit for the fact that Russia was preserved and conflicts were prevented from resulting in a new civil schism," Putin said.
At the conclusion of his speech, the president donated a copy of the icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker installed on the St. Nicholas Tower in the Kremlin.
Putin noted that the icon has marks on it resulting from a powder charge explosion in 1812 and gunshots in 1917, when fratricidal bloody battles took place in Moscow.
"I believe we will preserve peace and accord together, understand and listen to each other, work in the name of our common goals for the sake of the society," Putin said.