Patriarch Kirill plans several trips abroad in 2012

Moscow, April 25, Interfax – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia plans several trips abroad this year, Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Synodal Church and Society Department, said at a press conference in Moscow.

In particular, the Patriarch plans to go to Bulgaria on April 27-29, to Cyprus in June, to Poland in August, and to Jerusalem in November, the Metropolitan said.

Patriarch Kirill, as a newly-elected head of the Russian Orthodox Church, earlier paid official visits to other local Orthodox Churches in line with the so-called diptych, which lists the heads of all Orthodox churches around the world in a certain order.

The liturgical list of the local Orthodox Churches currently comprises 15 jurisdictions ranked in the following order: the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Church of Cyprus, the Church of Greece, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and the Orthodox Church in America.

Patriarch Kirill has so far traveled to Istanbul, Cairo, and Damascus, thus visiting the first three Orthodox Churches on the list. The planned visit to Bulgaria seems to be out of order, as the Patriarch would so skip trips to Jerusalem, Tbilisi, Belgrade and Bucharest.

However, Metropolitan Hilarion pointed out that the diptych is “not a principle that needs to be observed at any cost, and, considering that [Patriarch Kirill] managed to make only three trips in the first three years of his Patriarchate, then it would take him another 14 years to visit all the other local churches at the same pace and in the same order.”

As some of the local Churches sent their invitations to Patriarch Kirill several years ago, he decided to travel in the order he received these invitations or in line with some commemorative dates, he said.

Taking into account Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria’s advanced age – 97 years – Patriarch Kirill would not like to delay his visit to Bulgaria for too long, Metropolitan Hilarion said.