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A leading official from the world's second-biggest church, the Russian Orthodox Church, has called on Western churches to reform their religious calendars and celebrate Easter at the same time as the Russian and other churches, thus enabling all the world's Christians to share in Christianity's most important celebration every year.

At present, Easter is usually celebrated on two different dates. In most years, most Eastern Orthodox churches, including the Russian church, celebrate Easter on a different date from most Protestant and Catholic churches. One Orthodox theologian from the United States, Thomas Fitzgerald, said in 1997 that the division among Christians over Easter was "an internal scandal … And we have to ask what sort of witness this division gives to the world at large."

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate's department of external relations, has seized on the fact that, according to both calculations, this year the date of Easter coincides on April 15, and suggests that all churches adopt the method of calculation used by the Russian church and many other, mainly Orthodox, churches, so that henceforth Easter may be celebrated by all the churches at the same time.

"Each time Christians celebrate Holy Pascha [Easter] together, a feeling of regret arises that it is not going to happen next year," Metropolitan Kirill said last week, according to Russia's Interfax news agency. "That is why the issue of Easter celebrations is one of the priorities in the dialogue among Christians.

"I am profoundly convinced that it would be right to return to the Easter celebration according to the decision of the First Ecumenical Council [of Nicaea in the year 325] as the Orthodox do," ...

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