Moscow, March 15, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has said that he is troubled by a decline in the Christian population in the Palestinian Territories.
"Christians are leaving your country due to the externally induced circumstances facing the Palestinian Territories," the patriarch said at a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow on Friday.
Although Christians are not leaving the Palestinian Territories en masse, "their percentage is decreasing," he said.
"I would like to ask you, Your Excellency, to pay great attention to what I have just told you, persuade the Christian population not to leave the Palestinian state and make sure that peaceful and mutually respectful cooperation continues between Christians and Muslims in the Palestinian Territories," Patriarch Kirill said.
Palestinian laws guarantee equal rights both to Muslims and Christians, and "these rights are observed in practice," he said.
"The life and wellbeing of the Christian population are not endangered in any way. They are free to pursue a career in politics, business or science. The Palestinian Territories stand out among other Middle East countries in this respect," he said.
Large numbers of Russian Orthodox believers visit the Holy Land, where "they have always been given a warm reception on the territory of the Palestinian state," he said.
Patriarch Kirill traveled to the Holy Land in November 2012.