MOSCOW, January 21 (RIA Novosti)
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All-Russia will discuss the problems of Christians in the Middle East with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting in Moscow on Saturday, the Moscow Patriarchate spokesman said.
“Patriarch Kirill and Mahmoud Abbas will discuss the problems of Christians in the Holy Land, within the Palestinian state, as well as relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Palestinian administration,” archpriest Nikolai Balashov said.
Christian communities across the Middle East have been shrinking because of a combination of low birth rates, emigration and, in some places, persecution and violence.
In the West Bank and Gaza, Christian population has decreased from 5.3 percent in 1970 to 0.9-1.7 percent now, and is estimated at 40,000-75,000 people, according to the World Christian Database.
Abbas arrived in Moscow for a six-day working visit on Thursday. On Friday, he discussed Middle East settlement issues with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
On Saturday, the Palestinian leader will also be awarded the prize of the International Fund for the Unity of the Orthodox Peoples on Saturday. Patriarch Kirill heads the fund’s board of trustees.
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The downing of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane over Eastern Ukraine catapults the crisis there onto the global plane. The tragic and sudden loss of so many innocent lives should put a final point to the armed conflict—or it may put the international conflict over Ukraine on a much higher and more dangerous level.