Moscow, December 22, 2010
"Believers should become pioneers in overcoming interethnic tensions. We are called to be models of a Christian attitude to all without exception, to those who need our help, care and sympathy," the Patriarch said today at a session of the Diocesan Assembly of Moscow clergy.
He stressed that the "idea of national superiority is alien" to Orthodoxy, as is "hostility toward representatives of other religions."
The Patriarch urged all to remember that a person is pushed to the path of crime "not always by his own evil will, bad inclinations, or lack of means and desperation— but sometimes by the injustice and cruelty of the world around him."
"Even if the migrants have what we might view as an underdeveloped culture, this should in no way hinder us from giving them a friendly, helpful hand. Teaching them the Russian language, helping them to adapt to our cultural traditions and way of life could become one of the most important social works of the Church," said the Patriarch.
He called upon believers not to hide from these people "the spiritual treasure of Orthodoxy, especially from those who do not know God."
Patriarch Kirill is convinced that true international and interreligious peace can only be achieved in modern Russia if her citizens are religiously and morally educated, and that such an education must begin in school.
Moscow provides work to members of approximately 160 different ethnic groups, he noted. According to a report published by the World Bank, Russia has the highest number of migrant workers in Europe, and the second highest in the world.
This is according to official statistics, "not counting the huge number of illegal migrants. According to the 1989 and 2002 census, the number of Armenians and Georgian communities in Moscow has grown 2.8 times, Azerbaijani and Moldavian five times, Chechen 7 times, Tadjik 12 times, Vietnamese fourteen times, and Chinese, 35 times," said the Patriarch.
He noted that these migrants are not always equipped with the cultural knowledge and experience that it takes to adapts to a new ethno-cultural milieu.
"This evokes many negative reactions from the Muscovites, accusations of coarseness, hooliganism, and tendencies to put pressure on the local inhabitants, even using threats from organized groups."
The Patriarch also noted that there has been a noticeable increase in crime in Moscow, and cited official statistics from the chief of the Moscow Police department, Vladimir Kolokoltsev. According to these statistics, 40% of all crime in Moscow is at the hands of migrants, and some types of crime by outsiders are growing by 7-8%.
"The law enforcement agencies are fighting with participants in ethnic criminal groups, who often try to escape responsibility by disguising themselves as victims of xenophobia and national intolerance, and they thus provoke a radical reaction from some local residents," Patriarch Kirill said.
"Along with positive examples of honest, open dialogue," said the Patriarch, "many people face a situation wherein a falsely or deceptively perceived struggle against ethnic strife sometimes takes the form of limiting citizens' rights to discuss critical problems of interethnic relations." As a result, in his words, "painful questions remain unanswered, and new problems arise."