INTRODUCTION: Churchmen from all around the world began a meeting in Moscow on Monday (6 June) to discuss ways of promoting peace.
INTRODUCTION: Churchmen from all around the world began a meeting in Moscow on Monday (6 June) to discuss ways of promoting peace. The religious leaders came from about 100 countries to attend the four-day gathering.
SYNOPSIS:The conference was organised by the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow and has been officially dubbed "the world conference of religious workers for lasting peace, disarmament and just relations among nations". It was officially opened by the Metropolitan Juvenalij of Tula and Belev, and he spoke to about a thousand delegates.
Representatives of the Vatican and the United Nations Secretary General, Kurt Waldheim, read messages of good wishes to the conference, which is also expected to discus problems of mutual interest.
On Sunday (5 June) a variety of religious services were staged in Moscow and attended by the international churchmen. One of these was at the Moscow synagogue, which was built in 1906, eleven years before the Soviet revolution.
Another was held at the city's Catholic Cathedral. There are an estimated five million Roman Catholics in the Soviet Union.
Some observers say the Soviet attitudes towards human rights are expected to be discussed, particularly in the light of a conference on the Helsinki Agreement to be convened later this month.
The biggest religious group in the Soviet Union is the Orthodox Church which claims a following of 50 million. All religious bodies are, in theory, separate from the state. But the Council for Religious Affairs keeps control of their activities, and a council representative was one of the guest speakers at the conference.