Russian Patriarch Warns against Danger of Exploiting Mideastern Believers' Feelings for Political Purposes

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II has warned against a grave danger of exploiting believers' feelings for political purposes in the Middle East, for radicalising public forces in the region.

"We know from the experience of religious wars in Europe that the charge of hostility and hatred can remain powerful among the peoples and religious communities for many years afterwards," he said in a RIA Novosti interview. "It is therefore extremely important to foster dialogue between believers of different confessions in Iraq and the Iraqis' ties with the rest of the world." The Russian Orthodox Church Primate called on politicians to give due heed to religious leaders' peaceful positions.

The main lesson the Iraqi developments and other crises must teach religious leaders is the need to sow good in people's minds and hearts, to preach justice and mutual respect, believes the Russian church leader.

"It is only evident today that this is detrimental to establishing a world order that would give heed to all countries and peoples' interests, foster their unimpeded development and preserve their spiritual and cultural heritage," said the Patriarch.

He said the Iraqi developments had posed a lot of questions that were yet to be answered. Whether the modern-day world's order will be fair and based on the rule of law, is one of them. How to avert the danger of the "fist law"? How to ensure nations' right to choose their own ideology?

"These are the questions the entire global community, including the countries that have gained the upper hand in this military stand-off, have to answer in earnest" said the Patriarch.

He recalled that the leaders of major religious communities had spoken out against the military action in Iraq. The Russian Orthodox Church, for one, proposed to employ the world community's authority to the full and act in compliance with international law using diplomatic means of ensuring international and regional security.

Alexis II said the Russian Church had every opportunity to pursue the peacemaking mission.

Russian Orthodox believers were engaged neither in the Mideastern conflict, nor in any other regional conflicts, the fact that allows the Church to act as mediator and peacemaker, emphasised the Patriarch.

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