In an interview with Russia Today TV, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, said that "a drastic improvement of relationship between the United States and Russia" is necessary, because these two countries "have the military power to destroy each other and the whole world." Patriarch Kirill said that "our number one priority is to avert war," and added that even in the difficult days of the Cold War, Christian ties between Americans and Russians continued. "Why can’t we do the same today?" he asked, adding that this would have an impact on those who shape the foreign policy. The interview was conducted on the backdrop of the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba, on February 12, 2016, and was aired on February 16, 2016.
Following are excerpts:
Interviewer: The relations between Russia and the United States, in the eyes of the Americans, are strained more so than they have been in the past. Is it your hope that this unity within the Christian faith – the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church – will be a pathway forward for the two countries to realize that there just is too much at stake for them not to come to agreement on key issues?
Patriarch Kirill: We need to do everything possible to engineer a drastic improvement of the relationship between the United States and Russia. We need to realize that these are two major powers that have the military power to destroy each other and the whole world. A large scale war should be averted at all costs. This is what we discussed with Pope Francis.
It could be God's design to bring us together at this juncture, when dark clouds are gathering over Syria and when there is a threat of confrontation between countries with an immense destructive force. We need to do everything possible to avert war, this is our number one priority for the Americans, the Russians, and many other people, who have a sensible perspective on what is happening.
As for U.S.-Russian relations, I would like to recall the difficult years of the cold war, when the world was teetering on the brink of an actual war and the Christians of the United States and the Soviet Union still found the opportunity to meet and work together for a better future, we had intensive contacts with the United State's Christian community. Including delegation visits and conferences, in an effort to turn out a concerted Christian approach to issues that divided the United States and the Soviet Union.
Why can't we do it today? Why have we moved so much apart? Most of the people in the United States are Christians with the same values and belong to the same global Christian family as us. We should use this opportunity to build bridges rather than deepen the divide that lies between us. Then this grassroots support coming from ordinary people, clergymen, and religious institutions, will forge an environment in our respective countries that will have a positive impact on those who shape the foreign policy.