The Russian news agency Interfax has reported that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, above right, voiced concern to the Archbishop of Canterbury, left, that the Anglican Church is deviating from the norms of Christian teaching.
Interfax said that the patriarch, who visited London last week, had told Archbishop of Canterbury:
That the Russian Orthodox Church is seriously concerned with liberalisation of the teaching of the Anglican Church in questions of church rules – consecration of women to priests and bishops, and in morals and family issues.
Kirill’s spokesman Alexander Volkov told the journalists prior to Kirill’s return to Moscow that the patriarch expressed hope that the Church of England:
Will oppose the challenges of the modern world and try to preserve the Gospels teaching.
Curiously, Interfax appears to be the only site to carry this news item, but the Catholic Herald reported that Kirill’s visit to celebrate 300 years of the presence of Russian Orthodoxy in the British Isles had been criticised by UK MPs and Ukraine.
Labour MP John Woodcock said that it was “very troubling” for someone so closely associated with the current Russian government to be welcomed to Buckingham Palace at a time when Russia is supporting:
A murderous Syrian regime.
An inappropriate PR opportunity.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Natalia Galibarenko, reportedly said that Britain’s hosting of the patriarch risked legitimising Russia’s aggression in her country and described the patriarch as:
A Kremlin mouthpiece.
Around 1,000 people gathered in London’s Russian Orthodox cathedral to witness the consecration of the building, conducted by Kirill.
Welby was in attendance at the historic service at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God and All Saints in Knightsbridge.
In an address after the service, Patriarch Kirill said:
The Church is a community open to everyone, [it] erases all human controversies. Even a very rich man stands next to the poor one, high-ranking officials stand next to the common people.
The Church should also play a role in international relations. Through faith, through the Church the soul of a nation is manifested.