Russian Orthodox Church Offers Protection to Persecuted Christians in Africa
News of a sort rarely reported in Western media was made known last week. Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church came out in support of persecuted Christians in Africa.
In a statement made in press conference on 4 February, leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church came out in support of persecuted Christians particularly in Nigeria. Metropolitans Hilarion of Volokolamsk and Leonid of Klin as well as Hieromonk Stephen released their statement jointly.
Hilarion is in charge of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (DECR). Leonid is the Patriarchal Exarch for Africa and Hieromonk Stephen is the Secretary of Inter-Christian relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate.
“The Moscow Patriarchate has given support to persecuted African Christians, maintaining contacts with Christian Churches of the continent, including its largest ones – the Coptic and Ethiopian Churches”, the hierarch said, “The work with them is carried out by the Russian Orthodox Church as part of the work of the bilateral Commission for Dialogue. Thus, in Ethiopia, the Moscow Patriarchate has given support to local Christians who found themselves in a grave situation as a result of the actions of extremist groups and the development of civic confrontation. In 2019-2020, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia personally came out in defence of Christians subjected to organised attacks in central and western Ethiopia. “His voice was heard and the country authorities gave attention to this problem”, the DECR chairman said.
“His Eminence recalled the tragic situation of the Christian population in several African countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, the attacks of radicals on Christian villages in Mali, the religious persecutions in Burkina Faso. And in Niger, where Christians compose less than one percent of the population, their situation is especially disturbing, the archpastor noted.
“He stated that the gravest situation remains for Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa. The most disastrous situation is in Nigeria, as 79% of all the murders of Christians in Africa accounted on this country in 2021. “The Nigerian authorities are either unaware of or conceal the true scale of the persecution”, he stressed.”