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    PATRIARCH ALEXIS II CALLS FOR STRENGTHENING ORTHODOX UNITY

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    MOSCOW, January 21 (RIA Novosti correspondent Olga Lipich) - Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II declared to be for convening a Holy Great Synod of all Orthodox Churches as soon as possible.

    "We are confident that in our time it is necessary to strengthen Orthodox unity - it is a pressing demand of time," he stated at the meeting with Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa Petros VII on Wednesday.

    Alexis II also expressed regret that "the preparation for the Synod is not taking place, though it took a lot of effort back in the 1960s."

    The Patriarch also noted that last year he discussed this problem with Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius. "He voiced the idea that some Primates of the Orthodox Churches are too busy interpreting the canonic rules of the remote past, and for this reason we not always can answer the questions emerging in society," Alexis II said.

    "We have many problems which should be discussed," he stressed.

    Alexis II also recalled that a Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has been translated into many European languages and rouses interest not only in the religious but also in circular circles, was adopted in 2000. The Patriarch also noted that the Church of Alexandria, for its part, has unique experience of missionary activity which it can share with other Churches. "I feel the necessity of fraternal contacts and unity," Alexis II said in conclusion.

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