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Russia: Orthodox Church Will Continue Crafting "symphony" With State - Priest (updated)

Moscow, November 7, Interfax - A high-ranking Russian Orthodox Church priest has highly commended President Dmitry Medvedev's meeting with representatives of the Orthodox public, saying that the Russian Orthodox Church will continue its policy of crafting a "symphony" in the relationship between the church and state.

"An important event has occurred at the exhibition and forum - the president has met with representatives of various strata of our Church body for an essential, serious and committed discussion," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told a roundtable at the 10th exhibition and forum, Orthodox Rus, in Moscow, devoted to the 20th anniversary of the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Father Vsevolod was commenting on President Dmitry Medvedev and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia's visit to the exhibition and their subsequent meeting with representatives of the Orthodox public.
It was the first meeting, which was devoid of "pomposity and formal rigor, but was a serious dialogue between the state leader and the Orthodox public," he said.
"In my opinion, the meeting helped the president move closer to the people, make his position clearer to them, and speak his mind and share his innermost feelings with them. The words spoken by the president were heard and appreciated," he said.
It is important, said Father Vsevolod, that the president used the word "symphony" to describe the relationship between the church and state.
"We must not and we will not lay this word aside. We do live in a secular state, which is normal, but our society is largely made of Orthodox Christians. Therefore, the symphony of the church, state and society is a natural thing. It is a relationship within one body, not between things of differing nature - the body that largely belongs at once to the people and to the Church, which is Jesus Christ's body," he said.
A "symphony is as possible, as a Christian policy, economy and culture is possible and needed," Father Vsevolod said.
During the meeting, the president made several statements. He said the values traditional for the state must be further promoted. "The Orthodox Church is the keeper of these values and truths of monumental importance for our state," he said. Medvedev also spoke about the role the Orthodox community is playing in Russia's development, describing it as "people with an extremely powerful inner energy and strong moral values." Hopefully, the state will rely on them, he said.
Medvedev also announced that he would ask the Defense Ministry to increase the corps of military clergy and he supported the idea of expanding theologian culture and secular ethics programs at schools, if the parents do not object.

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