On September 17, 2018, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and at the invitation of the Portuguese Public Foundation “A Junção do Bem”, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Hilarion, arrived in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, at the invitation of the Portuguese Public Foundation. On the trip, Vladyka is accompanied by a representative of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia under the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Abbot Arseny (Sokolov), a member of the DECR Secretariat for Inter-Christian Relations, Priest Alexy Dikarev and Subdeacon Ivan Nikolaev.
On September 18, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk met with Cardinal Manuel Jose Clementi, Patriarch of Lisbon, in his personal residence. The Patriarch warmly welcomed the DECR chairman, who first arrived in Portugal in this capacity. Cardinal M. Clementi emphasized the importance of this visit in the light of the ministry that the Russian Orthodox Church bears in the modern world.
During the conversation, Metropolitan Hilarion spoke about the revival of the Russian Church: over the past 30 years, the number of its parishes increased from 7,000 to 37,000, monasteries from 19 to 950, the number of young people entering religious schools has steadily increased. As Vladyka noted, the ministry of the Russian Orthodox Church is not limited only to the territory of Russia, its canonical territory covers the countries of the former Soviet Union, new parishes are opened in foreign countries, particularly in Portugal, where there are currently 20 parishes in the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Patriarch of Lisbon emphasized the special importance of preserving and developing monastic life as the spiritual center of the Church. At the same time, the cardinal noted with regret a significant reduction in priestly and monastic vocations in the Roman Catholic Church of Portugal, associated with the process of secularization that engulfed Western countries, as well as a decline in the birth rate and a demographic crisis. The interlocutors expressed their conviction of the need to develop cooperation between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Church in the sphere of joint testimony to the modern world about the gospel of Christ and the protection of traditional Christian values in European society. In this regard, the great importance of the historic meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Cyril in February 2016 in Havana was noted.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Metropolitan Hilarion presented Cardinal M. Clementi as a memorable gift the publication of his book The Sacrament of Faith in Portuguese. In turn, the cardinal gave Vladyka an album dedicated to the history of the Lisbon Patriarchate.