Russian patriarch calls on Europe not to forget Christian roots

MOSCOW, September 28 (RIA Novosti) - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church criticized on Monday modern European values and called on Europeans to stick to their Christian roots.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia was addressing an audience of over 7,000 young people in the city of Vitebsk during a visit to Belarus, whose Orthodox Church is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate.

"European values - human freedom, rights, laws - are good. But there is great danger in the modern development of Europe, which is breaking away from its religious roots," he said.

"Now they are only inclined to pay attention to the consequences, without considering the lawgiver," the patriarch said, citing the European leaders' refusal to even mention Europe's Christian roots in the EU Constitution despite requests from the Vatican.

He also strongly criticized the rise of homosexual marriage and euthanasia.

"Homosexuality is a topic that has stopped worrying Europeans. A lawful marriage is equal to a homosexual one - that is how they understand freedom of choice there," Kirill said.

"An English baroness, a philosopher, proposes that old people commit suicide so as not to burden their near and dear with worries. Each person is creating his own reference frame," the patriarch said.

Baroness Mary Warnock, a British philosopher, said in an interview with the Church of Scotland's magazine Life and Work in 2008: "If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives - your family's lives - and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service."

"I'm absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there's a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die," she said.

On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI drew upon similar themes on the second day of a pastoral visit to the Czech Republic, urging the whole of Europe to remember its Christian roots.

"Attempts to marginalize the influence of Christianity upon public life - sometimes under the pretext that its teachings are detrimental to the well-being of society - are emerging in new forms," the pontiff said in the Throne Hall of the Archbishop's House in Prague.

"As Europe listens to the story of Christianity, she hears her own. Her notions of justice, freedom and social responsibility, together with the cultural and legal institutions established to preserve these ideas and hand them on to future generations, are shaped by her Christian inheritance," Benedict told leaders of the country's Christian Churches.



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