Religious freedom in Malaysia admirable, says Russian cleric

A top Russian Orthodox Church official marked his maiden visit here by giving Malaysia full marks for religious freedom and tolerance.

Metropolitan Kirill, who ranks second in the church’s hierarchy, said he had visited many countries but the insights he gained here had enriched him greatly.

“It has been a new experience for me. What I have learnt here will be useful for my work in Russia.

“Muslims and Christians live together in peace and harmony here. This is something which should be admired and preserved,” he said before leaving for Moscow on Wednesday.

He had arrived here on Friday at the invitation of Russian Ambassador to Malaysia Vladimir Morozov.

He held discussions with various people and groups, including Council of Churches general secretary Rev Dr Herman Shastri, the Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism, Kuala Lumpur Archbishop Rev Murphy Pakiam and the Institute of Islamic Understanding.

The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest religious association in Russia, with 130 dioceses, 23,000 parishes and almost 550 monasteries.

Metropolitan Kirill, who is a central and executive committee member of the World Council of Churches, said his discussions here had been beneficial.

He said Malaysia, as a modern and developing country, was an interesting example of religious democracy.

“There are more than 100 ethnic groups in Russia and this makes peace and stability vital to us,” he said, adding that there were some political forces instigating the ethnic groups to clash.

Metropolitan Kirill commended the Government for its anti-corruption drive, adding that a person with moral values would not succumb to evil temptations.