On December 5th in Moscow, in the Conference Hall of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, takes place the international conference "The Church and the Poor. Orthodox and Catholics at the Service of Charity ", organized by the Synodal Department for charity and social service of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Community of Sant'Egidio, with the participation of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. At the conference will be present among others Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department of External Relations, Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, prof. Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Community of Sant'Egidio, the bishop of Smolensk and Vyazma Panteleimon, president of the Department for charity, the Bishop of Gatchina Amvrosy, Rector of the Theological Academy of St. Petersburg.
The conference marks the tinerary of thirty years of ecumenical friendship and cooperation between the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Russian Orthodox Church, which has experienced several significant milestones. One of these focused in particular on charity. In fact, the experience of service to the poor of Sant'Egidio, since the second half of the eighties, has been a support for many ecclesial Orthodox entities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, that after the long Communist winter were living the effort to revive charitable activities, until then forbidden by laws. It was an approach that has proved particularly fruitful, because it has intercepted pastoral needs and questions of authentic Christian life by churches, who tried to grapple with the challenges of society starting from its most marginal sectorst, without having a wealth of experience and wisdom to draw from.
This collaboration and support has also generated a commitment to reflection on the cultural and spiritual issues related to charity. Common is the belief that, in the face of contemporary culture that promotes the marginalization of those who are weak, it is increasingly necessary to restore the centrality in the lives of Christians, of the encounter with the poor and their questions, especially in the context of uncertainty produced by the complexity and uncertainty of the globalized world.
Over the last decade four conferences have been organized: in Terni in 2002 and 2004 with the participation of the then Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kirill, now Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, in Rome in 2010 and 2011 with the participation of Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk Filaret, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus. The result of this effort were three volumes edited by Marco Gnavi: Holiness and love between East and West (Milan, Leonardo International, 2004), Charity. Old Word for a New Time (Milan, Leonardo International, 2010), Old Age. The Hidden Blessing (MIlan, Francesco Mondadori 2012).