#8 - JRL 7011
Russian Christian leader opposed to idea of agency for religious affairs
Moscow, 9 January: Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Aleksiy II said on Thursday [9 January] he strongly opposed the idea of setting up a state agency for the affairs of religious confessions.
"Any policy on religion that the state tries to shape without the participation of confessions themselves is doomed to failure," he told reporters.
Aleksiy II admitted there was an obvious need to regulate some aspects of relations between the state and religious organizations, but said he believed all solutions could be found in the course of direct contacts between confessions and different branches of executive power.
His opinion about the nature of proposals for a special go-between agency for religious confessions was quite clear and unambiguous. "Certain government officials and people calling themselves experts are seeking unlimited power, money and clout," Aleksiy II said.
"Those people ponder an opportunity to monopolize the contacts between the state and religious organizations and get the right to veto any decisions in that area," he said.
If that is the case, the Church will have every right to reject cooperation with such officials, Aleksiy II indicated.
He recalled the experience of Soviet era and the activity of the Council for Religious Affairs that reported to the USSR Council of Ministers. "It meddled all the time with the affairs of religious communities, overusing its powers and violating the rights of believers in many instances," Aleksiy II said.
It is inadmissible to forget that deplorable experience, he noted.