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8 Aug, 2009 10:42

Russian Orthodox Church mourns the “tragedy of three Christian peoples”

A memorial service has been held in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to commemorate the victims of the conflict in South Ossetia.

Opening the ceremony, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill described the war as “a tragedy of three Christian peoples.”

“Last year, as a result of an aggression that was started by evil political will… a large number of people in South Ossetia, Russia and Georgia lost their sons and daughters,” he said.

“Russian peacekeepers, while on a mission according to international agreements, became victims of the aggression,” Patriarch Kirill said. “Many Georgian Orthodox Christians got involved in this war and fell victims to it.”

The Russian Patriarch called on all believers to pray that such bloodshed was never repeated.

A year ago, the Orthodox Church was quick to respond to the conflict, dispatching aid packages to the victims. At the same time, both the Moscow and Georgian patriarchs openly spoke out against the war.

Since becoming Patriarch in January of this year, Kirill has worked hard to improve relations between all branches of the Orthodox Church, which have been strained since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Kirill, who is the first Patriarch to be elected in post-Soviet Russia, objects to South Ossetia’s move to establish its own Orthodox church, independent from the Georgian patriarchate.

Georgian and Ossetian Diasporas call for peace

Meanwhile, members of the United Russia party joined both Georgians and Ossetians in Moscow to lay flowers at the monument of Peter Bagration – a renowned 19th century Russian general of Georgian origin.

The purpose of the event was to emphasize the centuries-long friendship between the nations and a call for peace.