Russian Patriarch Welcomes Islamic Leaders’ Bid For Dialogue

Moscow, Apr. 16, 2008 ( – Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II has responded to the 138 Islamic leaders of the “Common Word” initiative, saying that Christians and Muslims should find ways to cooperate in support of common moral principles.

“Today Christianity and Islam do quite an important thing,” the Russian prelate wrote in his response to the Islamic leaders; “they remind mankind that God exists.” The Patriarch’s reply to the Common Word appeal was published on the web site of the Moscow patriarchate.

Patriarch Alexei said that any inter-religious dialogue should carefully preserve the distinct identity of the different faiths, to avoid falling into relativism. However, he said that the Christian and Muslim faiths have ample reason to collaborate in defense of traditional morality and against the advance of an “anti-religious world view.”

The Russian Orthodox leader said that relations between sincere Christians and Muslims should be strengthened to combat the effort of mutual enemies that are trying to promote a direct conflict between the two faiths. He suggested that Russia could be seen as the model of a society in which Christians and Muslims live in harmony.

Patriarch Alexei’s reply to the Common Word initiative comes several months after Pope Benedict XVI (bionews) offered his own invitation to inter-religious dialogue. Meeting in Rome in March, representatives of the Common Word movement and Vatican officials agreed to set up a series of in-depth exchanges to take place in November 2008.