Kirill Urges Collaboration Among Christians

Patriarch Sends Note to Benedict XVI

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MOSCOW, FEB. 13, 2009 ( Being a witness to Christ and the message of the Gospel is a fundamental duty of Christians, and especially of its leaders, says the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

Patriarch Kirill wrote this in a message sent to Benedict XVI, in which he thanked the Pope for congratulating him upon his election as patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The patriarch explained in the note, translated by L’Osservatore Romano, that «among the many duties of the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, one of them is the fundamental necessity of giving witness to and affirming the values of the Gospel of Christ in modern society.»

Kirill says he is convinced that this should contribute to «dialogue and collaboration among all those who call themselves Christian.»

The patriarch he assured the Pope that the Russian Orthodox Church «will continue to be open to cooperation with those who are declared followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and maintain the traditional vision of the contents of the message that Christians should carry with them to the contemporary world.»

«Among the collaborators in this area, the Catholic Church of Rome occupies a particular place,» he acknowledged.

«I sincerely hope for a fruitful development of relations between our Churches,» Kirill added.

He wished Benedict XVI «peace, health and the God’s help in his work,» signing the note «with affection in the Lord.»

As metropolitan and president of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, Kirill met for the first time with Benedict XVI shortly after his papal installation in April 2005. They met again in May 2006 and Dec. 2007.

Kirill had been fulfilling the duties of patriarch since the Dec. 5 death of Alexy II, and was elected as Patriarch Jan. 27 and enthroned Feb. 1.

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