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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Church to Open a Rights Center

The Russian Orthodox Church said Thursday that it would open a human rights center in an attempt to better reflect the values of most Russians.

"A mistake by many rights activists today is that their activities do not correspond with the opinions and values of a majority of our people," said Metropolitan Kirill, head of the foreign relations department of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Kirill, speaking at a news conference, also expressed surprise that Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity, had suggested on Monday that a papal visit to Russia was looking increasingly likely. "This topic has not been considered, nor has it even been proposed," he said. He noted, however, that dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church "has intensified" since Pope Benedict XIV was elected last year.

Also, Kirill criticized a recent U.S. State Department report that criticized religious tolerance in Russia while praising Afghanistan for its religious freedom.