An officials visit by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Russia will strengthen cooperation and brotherhood in the Orthodox world and make the holding of the All-Orthodox council more real, a spokesman for Russia's Orthodox Church, archpriest Nikolai Balashov, has said.
The head of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople will arrive in the Russian capital later on Saturday on an invitation by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
During his stay in the country, which will last more than a week, Patriarch Bartholomew will visit many of Russia's Orthodox sites, including the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, the most important Russian monastery and spiritual centre, the Valaam Monastery in Karelia, and St. Isaac's Cathedral in St.Petersburg.
"This is not the first visit by Patriarch Bartholomew to the Russian [Orthodox] Church. The official visit by the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1993 was also long-lasting... But many things have changed in the life of our Church and our country over the past 17 years," Balashov said.
He said the visit would make the holding of the All-Orthodox council, the necessity of which has been recognized "since the first decade of the 20th century", more real.
Patriarch Kirill paid an official visit to the Constantinople Patriarchate in 2009, after he had been elected new head of the Russian Orthodox Church following the death of Patriarch Alexy II.
"Patriarch Kirill would like the atmosphere of brotherly cooperation and mutual understanding, which developed during his first official visit to Constantinople (Istanbul) in 2009, to develop further," Balashov said.
Patriarch Bartholomew will meet with Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov on May 26 in Moscow. On May 30, he will lead a divine liturgy together with Patriarch Kirill and members of the Russian Holy Synod in the St. Isaak Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
Bartholomew will fly back to Istanbul on May 31.
MOSCOW, May 22 (RIA Novosti)