Alexy II visits France
( Interfax ) - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II left for France Monday afternoon.
He will first arrive in Strasbourg to meet Roman Catholic Archbishop Jean-Pierre Grallet of Strasbourg. Monday evening he will visit the local cathedral to attend a concert of Russian Orthodox choirs 'Voices of the Orthodox Russia.'
On the eve of his visit, Alexy II gave an interview to the French La Vie magazine expressing his hope that his trip may be helpful to strengthen cooperation between Russian and European Union, and that his address to the PACE will communicate the Orthodox vision of many problems to its members.
Meanwhile, the deputy chair of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin called this visit 'an historic event.' It's the first time a Russian Orthodox primate visits France, he added.
After speaking at the PACE session on October 2, Alexy II will meet the PACE president Rene van der Linden, the Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis, and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.
After that, the patriarch will celebrate a service at All Saint's Russian Orthodox church in Strasbourg and leave for Paris afterwards. There he will meet with the Russian Orthodox community and bishops of other Orthodox Churches.
In the evening, October 3, the primate will meet President Nicolas Sarkozy and afterwards visit Notre Dame de Paris.
During his last day in France, October 4, the patriarch will hold a memorial prayer at Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois Russian Cemetery near Paris.