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Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk’s interview t…

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk’s interview to Interfax-Religion portal

- Your Eminence, you have just come back from Paris, where you were member of the Russian official delegation led by President Dmitry Medvedev. What are your impressions of this trip?

- The greatest impression was made on me by the President’s and his wife’s visit to the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris for venerating the main shrine of the cathedral – the Saviour’s Crown of Thorns. It was an unforgettable and moving event. Emperor Nicholas II was the last head of the Russian State to visit the Notre Dame. Dmitry Anatolyevich entered the cathedral to the sound of the same music as the organist performed during the visit of the last Russian Emperor in 1896. The President and Ms. Medvedeva attended a brief Orthodox prayer service I celebrated together with a group of students of Paris Orthodox Seminary and then we all kissed the Crown of Thorns, the piece of Our Lord’s Cross and a nail with which the Saviour had been nailed to the cross.

Among other events in which I participated during the visit I would like mention the meeting with the Mayor of Paris and the President’s speech at the City Council, the dinner with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elisée Palace and the two Presidents’ visit to the Louvre where a unique exhibition called ‘Holy Rus’ was opened. It presents masterpieces of Russian iconography and applied art from the Tretyakov Gallery and other Russian museums. Its opening drew a wide response and launched the Year of Russian Culture in France with its more than four hundred events.

- Was the project for building a Russian church on Qais Branly mentioned during meetings with French officials? When will the construction begin?

- This project was mentioned in particular during the talk Dmitry Anatolyevich had with the Mayor of Paris. Presumably the construction will begin in 2012. By that time the Meteo-France service, which occupies this lot at present, will have to vacate it. By that time the design work will probably have been completed.

- Did you meet with any of Orthodox hierarchs of other jurisdiction in Paris?

- No. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, with whom I maintain a close enough contact, especially in preparations for a visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to Moscow, was absent from Paris in those days. I had been supposed to serve at the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in rue Daru as I had agreed to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in it on the invitation of Archbishop Gabriel of Comana, but a week before the appointed date I received a letter from Archbishop Gabriel informing me that my visit to the cathedral had to be put off until better times. He indicated as a reason the French court ruling that the cathedral in Nice be transferred to the Russian Federation for ownership. This decision displeased some members of the Diocesan Council of his Archdiocese, who indicated to him that my visit to the cathedral was impossible at the moment.

- But the lawsuit was brought by the Russian state, not the Russian Church…

- Yes, and the court ruling has nothing to do with interchurch relations, as it is a pure ownership dispute. The cathedral was built by the Russian Imperial Family and it is the Russian Federation as the recognized successor of the Russian Empire that should own the cathedral and the adjoining lot, which was reconfirmed by the French court. This decision by no means infringe on the rights of parish which conducts divine services at this cathedral at present. The Russian Federation has officially proposed to this parish, which is under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, to continue using the cathedral. But the parish council rejected the proposal, insisting that along with the right to use the cathedral the parish should also have the right to own it.

- Your Eminence, how do you assess the prospects for relations with the Evangelical Church in Germany after Margot Kaessmann stepped down as president of its Council? Will the theological dialogue be resumed?

- I intended to come to Germany in May. I suggested to Bishop Martin Schidehuette, who is responsible to inter-Christian relations in the ECG, that he use my visit to meet and discuss prospects for further cooperation. I received a reply saying that this meeting only was possible on the condition that I gave written guarantees that my meeting with Schidehuette would serve as a preparation of a meeting between Ms. Kaessmann and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. It goes without saying that I was not going to give any guarantees because I believed such a meeting was impossible. I already began drafting a reply when news came about the incident that happened to Ms Kaessmann and later about her retirement. I think now the demand of guarantees is no longer relevant.

As for a resumption of the dialogue, I believe we will be able to discuss this matter after a new president of the ECG Council is elected, which is to take place in November. I would like to note that the election of Ms. Kaessmann was only the tip of an iceberg of a sort. As His Holiness Patriarch Kirill said in his address to the Bishops’ Conference, we disagree in principle with the liberalization in theology, church order and morality which takes place in many Protestant communities including the ECG. We should be frank and ask: Is there any sense in conducting a dialogue if it does not bring us closer together? Certainly, we have many opportunities for cooperation and we should preserve the great positive potential we have accumulated for the 50 years of dialogue. But can we continue the cooperation in the form of interchurch dialogue, or should we look for some other forms of cooperation? I believe we will be able to answer this question when a new president of the Council is elected and when it is clear how seriously the ECG takes our concern for the situation as it has developed.

- Your Eminence, your work schedule is loaded to the utmost. What trips are you to make in the nearest time?

- I am to go to St. Petersburg to participate in the Holy Synod session on March 5-7. On March 10-11, I plan to visit Vilnius on the invitation of the Lithuanian Seim chairman. On March 12-13, I am to go to the diocese of Lipetsk and Elets on the invitation of the ruling bishop Nikon for a talk with university students and faculty. On March 16-18, I will accompany His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on his trip to Armenia. From March 19 to 24, I plan to visit several dioceses in Ukraine and Moldova. On March 26-27, I am to be in Istanbul for a meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew. On March 30, I should be in Dnepropetrovsk. All these before Easter. After Easter I will participate in the visit of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to the Patriarchate of Alexandria and then I will make trips to Ireland, Germany, Italy and other countries.

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Patriarchal congratulation to Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk on the 20th anniversary of his episcopal ministry


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Burial takes place of archpriest Nikolai Gundyaev


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The Holy Synod resolves to form a Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia holds a phone conversation with His Beatitude Tikhon, Metropolitan of All America and Canada.


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill presides over the last session of the Holy Synod in 2021


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill presides over joint session of the Hoy Synod and the Supreme Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia congratulated Pope Francis on his 85th birthday.


Condolences of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill over the tragic consequences of a tornado in a number of US states


Congratulations of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill to O. Scholz on his election as Federal Chancellor of Germany


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill sent a message to the former Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel


Metropolitan Hilarion expresses condolences over the death of Archpriest Alexander Makarov, a longstanding staff member of the DECR


Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated Patriarch-Catholicos of Ethiopia Abune Mathias on his 80th birthday


Metropolitan Hilarion attends opening of Valery Khalilov Music Festival


DECR Chairman meets with Croatia’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs


DECR chairman gives assessment to the first stage of the negotiations on security between representatives of the Russian Federation and the West


Metropolitan Hilarion: Orthodoxy is a traditional confession in Kazakhstan professed by several million people


Metropolitan Hilarion: the Church and traditional confessions have done everything possible to appease the situation in Kazakhstan


A new musical composition dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky is performed in Moscow.


On the day of the 20th anniversary of his episcopal consecration, DECR chairman celebrates Liturgy at the church of Our Lady the Joy to All the Afflicted in Moscow


Patriarchal congratulation to Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk on the 20th anniversary of his episcopal ministry


“The tasks before us are large and interesting,” Metropolitan Hilarion said about the work of the Scientific and Educational Theological Association


Metropolitan Hilarion: Churches will have to make non-standard decisions


DECR chairman meets with Primate of the Armenian Catholic Church


Metropolitan Hilarion presents a state award to the DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox relations


On the feast of the Nativity of Christ, the Primate of the Russian Church celebrated great vespers at the Church of Christ the Savioir


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has commanded us to love every human being


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Metropolitan Hilarion: Many things in a person's life depend on faith


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Holy Spirit is the main treasure of the Christian soul


Metropolitan Hilarion: Holiness is a constant striving to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ


Metropolitan Hilarion: God does not want to condemn, but to save us


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord always grants to us the opportunity to display our talents


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has imbued the waters of Jordan with his divine presence to wash away human sins


Metropolitan Hilarion: to repent means to change your way of life


On commemoration day of St. Catherine, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk officiated at the Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr In-the-Fields  the representation of the Orthodox Church in America


Metropolitan Hilarion: We can always show compassion for people


Metropolitan Hilarion celebrates on commemoration day of St. Varlaam of Khutyn at the church of ‘Joy to All the Afflicted’ icon of the Mother of God


Metropolitan Hilarion: We should remember that the life of each human being is in the hands of God


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Metropoplitan Hilarion: The cross which was an instrument of dishonourable execution becomes the symbol of salvation for millions of people


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