17 July 2008, 10:04
Moscow, July 17, Interfax - Bishop Niphon (Saikali) of Philipopolis, the Antioch Patriarch's representative to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia over 30 years, spoke against actions of Greek Patriarchates in the Middle East as they oppose increasing Russian presence in the region.
"I've heard that the Jerusalem and the Constantinople Patriarchates have certain objections against expansion of Russian presence in the Middle East. They are wrong," the bishop said in his interview published by NG-Religii paper on Wednesday.
He said, "Russian state is one thing and the Russian Orthodox Church is a quite different thing."
The bishop further said, the Moscow Patriarchate "plays an important role both in the Orthodox world and inter-religious relations." However, the Russian Church "doesn't have any claims for political influence on international arena and seeks only fraternal relations with other local Churches."
"I'd like to urge our Greek brothers to expand Orthodox impact together with Russians. The Russian Church is a great Church, and sister-Churches should gain strength from it for preaching our faith," the Middle East hierarch stressed.
He also urged the Constantinople and the Jerusalem Patriarchates, which clerics are Greek by origin, enlarge its clergy with Arab clerics. "Their mentality should be changed somehow," Bishop Niphon stated.
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