Patriarch Kirill to arrive in Poland on Thursday

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is due to arrive in Poland on Thursday for a four-day visit at the invitation of Polish Orthodox Church Metropolitan Sawa. It will be the first visit by a head of the Russian Orthodox Church to Poland, the Moscow Patriarchate's spokesman deacon Alexander Volkov told Interfax-Religion.

"This event will doubtless play an exceptional role due to the importance of maintaining good Christian relations between our people," he said.

During the visit, Patriarch Kirill, Metropolitan Sawa and other Polish Orthodox Church priests will conduct joint religious services, including at Warsaw's St. Mary Magdalene Church on August 16.

The main religious services will take place on the Holy Mountain of Grabarka, a nationwide famous Orthodox pilgrimage center, the day before and during the Transfiguration of Christ holiday, to be marked on August 19.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church will also visit different churches and monasteries across Poland, where he plans to meet with Polish worshipers and pray together with them.

Another key event of Patriarch Kirill's visit to Poland will be the signing of a joint message to the people of Russia and Poland by him and Polish Episcopal Conference President Jozef Michalik.

"The content of this document rules out any political components. Its text is based on the Christian view of sin and forgiveness, without which any reconciliation of our people would be empty words. We will appeal to the people of Russiaand Poland who realize that any search for those who are right and who are guilty, pride and arrogance run counter to Christian conscience," Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, told the Interfax-Religion website.

Patriarch Kirill also plans to meet with the Polish leadership.

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