published in pravmir.com
Patriarch Kiril’s visit to the Patriarchate Of Alexandria: Joy and Aspirations
Minas Monir, Cairo – Egypt
With joy, the Orthodox faithful in Egypt received the news of Patriarch Kirill’s visit to the ancient patriarchate of Alexandria. The primate of the world’s largest and most influential Orthodox Church began his trip with the See of St. Mark and will finish it in Damascus, Syria. The news was quickly circulated in the parish, and preparations for the great spiritual event soon began in both Alexandria and Cairo.
Patriarch Kirill and Patriarch Theodore II officiated the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Cathedral, in Alexandria. Priests from Cairo, preceded by Archimandrite Elias Habib, went to Alexandria to share the Alexandrian parishioners in this historical event.
I believe that the joyous reaction and celebratory atmosphere can be explained in the light of two important factors. Firstly, the historically strong ties between the two patriarchates. Secondly, the significant prestige of the Patriarch of Moscow as a prominent spiritual figure in the Orthodox world.
In the last two decades, the Russian Orthodox Church has developed its spiritual role and contribution in the Middle East. A great Cathedral of Saint Nicolas was built in the United Arab Emirates and a renewal of activities in Jerusalem can be clearly witnessed, which has given financial and spiritual support to the Antiochian Christians. Today, we also find missionaries in Africa supporting the Alexandrian Patriarchate’s efforts in this poor and often neglected part of the world.
Historically, we – Alexandrians – know how the Russian Church helped in the restoration of Orthodox Churches and the Patriarchal Library. The current Patriarch of Alexandria, Theodore II, was the Exarch of the Alexandrian See in Moscow. He speaks Russian fluently, and even prays in Russian sometimes. He was among the attendants in the ordination of Patriarch Kirill and officiated with him his first Liturgy after ordination, at Christ the Savior Cathedral.
As further indication of the strong relationship, Patriarch Kirill will present bells cast in Russia, made especially for St. George patriarchal monastery in Cairo. This can be seen as an indication of a promising future of cooperation on the pastoral and institutional level as well.
As an Alexandrian Orthodox Christian, I look forward to seeing Patriarch Kirill’s first visit to the Patriarchate of Alexandria as a continuance of cooperation and contribution of the Russian Church. The Church in Egypt needs support in its projects and development. Poverty and social difficulties are the main challenge facing the Church. The missionaries in Africa need support from all the Christendom, to help them in their message of preaching the good news and bringing the divine light to those who live in difficult conditions in the poorest continent.
On the spiritual level, there is an increasing interest in the Russian spiritual fathers’ legacy. The Middle East Orthodox today are working on translating and producing studies on the Russian fathers and saints. In Egypt, the Holy Archangels Orthodox Church has published various translations of modern Russian fathers’ famous works. The writings of Bulgakov, Alexander Schmemann and Florovsky are gradually becoming known to Arab speaking Orthodox faithful. I believe that there’s a duty of the Russian Church today to present and lead more communication activities between the Alexandrian and Russian Christians, including illuminating the Russian spiritual experience for today’s Orthodox Christians of the Middle East.
I believe that this visit will be a very positive step on the road of achieving such aspirations.