Patriarch Aleksy, Metropolitan Theodosius: Visit strengthens bonds between Churches, people of North America and Russia

— His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, arrived in Moscow on Monday afternoon, December 3, 2001, for a week-long official visit to Russia at the invitation of His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Rus.

Patriarch Aleksy, together with His Eminence, Metropolitan Sergius of Solnechnogorsk, Bishop Alexander of Dmitrov, and other representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, welcomed Metropolitan Theodosius upon his arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetevo Airport.

“The tragic events in the United States and the cooperative efforts of the presidents of our countries to work together to resist terrorism has drawn our people and nations together,” Patriarch Aleksy said in his welcoming remarks. “We consider your visit to the Russian Orthodox Church as an occasion to further strengthen the collaboration and mutual understanding between our sister Churches, as well as our nations and their people.”

Thanking Patriarch Aleksy for his warm welcome, Metropolitan Theodosius also referred to the changes that have taken place since the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11.

“The world has greatly changed since my last visit here almost two and one-half years ago, and indeed the world has changed greatly even within the last three months,” Metropolitan Theodosius said in his response. “The tragic events of September 11 have greatly altered the manner in which citizens of the United States lead their daily lives and, indeed, have altered the manner in which they perceive themselves as citizens of the world and the community of nations.”

In referring to the origins of Orthodox Christianity in North America, which date back to the arrival of Orthodox missionaries from Russia in 1794, Metropolitan Theodosius stated that he hopes his visit to Patriarch Aleksy and the Church of Russia “will strengthen the bonds which already exist between us - the bonds of faith, hope and love - bonds which are founded upon a shared history. I also pray that this visit will serve to strengthen the developing relationship between the people of Russia and the United States - indeed, between all people of good will - and all those who seek to work for peace and justice among the nations of the world.”

On Tuesday, December 4, he will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy for the Great Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple at the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin, after which he will participate in the transfer of the relics of Saint Tikhon of Moscow from the new cathedral at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Don to their original resting place in the old cathedral some 400 yards away.

Other highlights of his stay in Russia include visits to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity and Saint Sergius and the Moscow Theological Academy in Sergiev Posad, the Women’s Monastery of Saints Martha and Mary, the Monastery of the Meeting of Our Lord in the Temple in central Moscow, the Saint Tikhon Theological Institute, and numerous other monasteries and institutions of the Moscow Patriarchate. On Thursday, December 6, he will celebrate the All-Night Vigil at the Orthodox Church in America’s Representation Church of Saint Catherine, where he will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy the following morning with Patriarch Aleksy on the occasion of the parish’s patronal feast day.

Before returning to the United States, Metropolitan Theodosius will stop in Helsinki, Finland to meet with His Eminence, Archbishop Leo, the recently-elected primate of the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland.

Among those accompanying Metropolitan Theodosius are His Eminence, Archbishop Herman of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania and Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America.