Russian patriarch says Christians are oppressed in well-off Europe

Patriarch Kirill © Vladimir Astapkovich
Well-to-do Europe has turned into a place where Christians are oppressed, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill said in a Christmas TV interview.

“Christianity is being pushed out of the public space. In many countries, the word ‘Christmas’ isn’t used now,” the top cleric said, speaking to Rossiya 1 on January 7 - Orthodox Christmas day.

“The plight of Christians in Syria, Iraq, and many other countries, has been driven to extremes. Christians are currently the most oppressed religious community in the world, and not only in the Middle East, but also in well-off Europe, where a public display of faith, such as openly wearing a cross, can lead to dismissal at work,” the Patriarch added.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church also spoke out on the issue of global terrorism.

“Zealotry is an idea driven to an absurd level. Fanatics think they have the right to control people’s lives and are free to decide whether the Christian community should exist or not, because Christians are ‘faithless’ and should be crushed. This idea in itself is contrary to religion, contrary to God,” the Patriarch said.

Finally, the cleric expressed hope about the current religious situation in Russia.

“I like a lot of what is happening in our country today. I’m not idealizing the situation, but I see how slowly, not without difficulty, the alignment of two foundations in our people’s life is happening. The material, scientific, technical foundation, the people’s striving for better life, are linked to their spiritual needs.”

Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7, as they follow the Julian calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar used in most countries.