Putin Opposes ‘Primitive Interpretation’ of Secularism

MOSCOW, February 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that though he supported a secular state in Russia, the society should avoid “vulgar and primitive interpretation” of secularism.

“We are a secular state of course, and cannot allow state life and church life to merge, but at the same time, we must avoid too, a vulgar and primitive interpretation of what being secular means,” the Russian president said in his speech to the Bishops’ Council, which gathered in Moscow on Friday.

“Traditional values, believers’ religious feelings, and people’s rights, freedoms, and dignity must all be protected by both the power of public opinion and the power of the law,” he said.

He added that as a response to people’s “vital need for moral support and spiritual guidance,” the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional religions of Russia “must have all the possibilities for carrying out full and real service in important areas such as supporting families and mothers, raising and educating children, youth policy, resolving the many social problems we still face, and strengthening patriotic spirit in the Armed Forces.”

The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, in his turn, thanked the Russian leadership for creating an efficient system of dialog with the religious authorities.

“We are thankful to the state authorities for, while not interfering into the religious affairs, [the state] still gives us an opportunity to cooperate in the areas where the cooperation is needed,” he said.

The Bishops’ Council, the supreme body of hierarchic governance, is summoned by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod no less than once every four years.


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