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Lest we forget our neighbour, says Moscow Patriarch

Faithful to the old Julian calendar, the Russian Orthodox Church is celebrating Christmas today. In his Christmas message, the patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Aleksij II (pictured), remembers the Beslan tragedy and calls on the faithful of every religion to work together for peace in the world.

"We Christians," the Patriarch said, "believe and know that the coming of Christ the Saviour on earth has radically changed our lives and our nature as human beings" reports Asia News.

In the message, Aleksij II encourages the faithful not to forget this gift in "today's frenetic life" but urges them to "dedicate one's time praying to God and loving one's neighbour in fulfillment of the Gospel's teachings".

The Patriarch writes that Russia experienced a difficult moment in September of last year when pupils at a school in Beslan were slaughtered. "The death of so many innocent victims," he explains, "has become our shared sorrow", but was also a great moment of solidarity. "In the face of death, most people were examples of selfless love for their neighbour".

Finally, Patriarch Aleksij greeted other Christians in the world and the believers of other religions. "We can work together to appease the world and bring prosperity to all peoples. May God bestow the gift of peace, brotherhood, wisdom and hope upon every nation.

Unlike other Christian denominations, Russian Orthodoxy still celebrates religious festivities according to the old Julian calendar and in so doing rejects the Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

This is the reason why dates are not the same for Catholics and Orthodox—January 7 in the Gregorian calendar corresponds to December 25 in the Julian.

The Russian Revolution changed all this, and until 1991 Christmas Day was just another January day.

By contrast, the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a revival of the Julian calendar.

Lest we forget our neighbour in today's frenetic life, says Moscow Patriarch (Asia News 6/1/05)

The Russian Orthodox Church

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7 Jan 2005