Magazine article The Christian Century

Patriarch Cuts Short Visit to the U.S

Magazine article The Christian Century

Patriarch Cuts Short Visit to the U.S

Article excerpt

Top Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Aleksy II broke off his tour through the U.S. to return to Moscow following Russian President Boris Yeltsin's suspension of that country's parliament. Alesky was in the U.S. to commemorate two centuries of Orthodox growth in the Americas.

Upon his arrival in San Francisco September 21, fresh from a stop in Alaska, Aleksy appealed for peace in his beleaguered homeland: "As spiritual leader of the Russian Orthodox people, I call for peace and calmness and that there be no shedding of blood and that this conflict between governmental authorities does not grow and turn to civil war."

Aleksy, who has been at odds with Yeltsin over the church hierarchy's desire for a more restrictive religion law, warned that the country is "at the edge of a chasm beyond which lies civil war." Speaking to reporters, the patriarch went on to say: "There is a constitution, and there are laws that must be observed. I have called on everyone to compromise." Yeltsin and the Russian parliament are engaged in a potentially disastrous game of brinkmanship, prompted by wide disagreement over political and economic reform. On September 21 Yeltsin disbanded the parliament, which includes many former communists and nationalists opposed to his policies. In retaliation, parliament leaders selected Vice-President Aleksandr V. Rutskoi, Yeltsin's political enemy, as acting president, giving the country two presidents.

Aleksy was in the U.S. retracing the steps of earlier Orthodox missionaries to the Americas to help inaugurate a yearlong period of bicentennial events in the U. …

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