Robert Moynihan, editor of the Inside the Vatican newsletter, is in Moscow visiting with Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk and other church people. He reports that “the Russian Orthodox have now decided to engage with Catholics, and others, in a collaboration which can be compared to an actual alliance against the great social evils of our day, not only in Russia, but also throughout Europe and the world.” Moynihan says that this effort will be directed by a new think tank, the St. Gregory Nazianzus Foundation, which has the blessing of Patriarch Kirill.
Archbishop Hilarion, working with a team of young Orthodox clergy and laymen, decided to found the St. Gregory Nazianzus Foundation in order to work together with Catholics and others in the West, to support traditional spiritual values in Russia, but also throughout the world,
St. Greory was a theologian in the 300s, well before the division of the Church into East and West, and so is venerated both by the Catholics and by the Orthodox. He is a Father of the Church for all Christians.
The co-founders of this new foundation are Archbishop Hilarion and Vadim Yakunin, one of the wealthiest businessmen in Russia. Yakunin has made a personal commitment to support the spiritual and social vision articulated by Patriarch Kirill.
Other wealthy Russians are also prepared to support this Foundation. But participation by Americans and Western Europeans would also be very much appreciated.
Hilarion and Yakunin have chosen [Leonid] Sevastianov to head up the foundation. Sevastianov, 31, was born in Rostov-on-Don, a Cossack region, into a family of Russian Old Believers. He studied at the Gregorian University in Rome from 1999 to 2002 (he speaks Italian fluently), and at Georgetown University in Wshington DC from 2002 to 2004 (he also speaks English fluently).
“We want to try to attract the attention of religious believers, in Russia and abroad, who believe in traditional Christian values, and who want to contribute to making society more just and more moral,” Sevastianov told me.
“We want to promote the idea of the unity between the West and Russia on the basis of common Christian roots. We believe in this alliance among traditional Christian countries, and we believe we need to talk with one voice in the face of secularism and a false ‘liberalism,’ and we believe that, with a united voice, we can be a strong force against the radical secular world which has become dominant in our societies.
“We believe traditional Christian values are the basis for a more just, prosperous, open and free society, and we can find an example of this at the beginning of the 20th century, when leading Russian Old Believers, the most traditional wing of Russian Orthoxy, like Pavel Ryabushinsky and Savva Timofeyevich Morozov attempted to reform Russian society.”