In the near future, a Russian research centre and two institutes will be built in the Middle East. Within the next few weeks, the locations and terms of implementing this project are to be determined. Bishop Mark Golovkov of Yegorevsk stated such as he addressed a regular session of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society in Moscow. The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, which initiated this project to expand Russian cultural presence in Middle Eastern countries, was set up under the patronage of Tsar Aleksandr Aleksandrovich in 1882. The Society has been behind many projects to build Russian schools, hospitals, Orthodox churches, monasteries, and centres to support compatriots and pilgrims in the Holy Land. It was the force behind a project to build the first Orthodox Church in Saudi Arabia and an Orthodox pilgrim centre in Jordan. Countries in the Middle East readily render assistance in carrying out its projects and eagerly engage in constructive dialogue with Russian culture and civilisation. Bishop Mark commented:
Pilgrims from Russia are arriving in Israel, the Palestinian Autonomy, Syria, the Lebanon, and Jordan in increasingly large numbers. They’re welcome in the Middle East because Russians have always carried peace, help, support, and the spiritual values that Russia is so noted for. The Society’s programme for the Middle East provides for opening Russian schools, initiating courses in the Russian language, and for organising annual conferences and forums. A dialogue between the different religions in the Middle East is vital for mutual understanding and spiritual enrichment, for it’s only through this dialogue that we can build a lasting peace, whose only basis would be mutual respect and cultivated tolerance.
14 March 2008
Voice of Russia World Service
Bishop Mark is NOT speaking of syncretistic ecumenism. Rather, he’s advocating a “good neighbour” policy towards other Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Middle East. Truly, it’s the only way that we can achieve anything constructive in the region (or anywhere else, for that matter). Results DO count. For only a good tree bears good fruit…