Russian patriarch: cooperation does not imply proselyte activities

Moscow, Russia - The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) head made it a point at talks with an Italian official that inter-church cooperation meant that churches must not convert members of other churches.

"Cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church must exclude the forms of proselytism (i.e. the Vatican spreading its influence to what the ROC sees as its canonical territory) that have been pursued recently," Alexis II, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, said at a meeting with Pierferdinando Casini, the chairman of Italy's Chamber of Deputies, in St. Daniel's Monastery in Moscow on Tuesday.

His Holiness Alexis II said in the face of globalization Christians must join efforts to "counter negative global challenges like violence, egoism, and moral relativism."

The Russian church leader added the ROC pinned much hope on new Pope, Benedict XVI.

His Holiness Alexis II said globalization processes could lead to the loss of self-identity, if "the man's religious belonging is not given due heed in the architecture of the future."

The patriarch said an individual pursuing his/her religious traditions would find a place in the world, whereas people without traditions would get lost in the globalization environment.

"Therefore, we have made persistent attempts to introduce the Basics of Orthodox Culture (in school curricula( that show our roots and traditions," the patriarch said. He added Europe had tended to "hush the spiritual roots of the European civilization."

"Tolerance has been reduced to an absurd, and sometimes Christians cannot openly say what they believe is a sin and what is a virtue," the patriarch said.