Patriarch Kirill says he hopes the next Roman Pontiff will continue to develop a good relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church, as Benedict XVI did.
In a farewell message to the Pope Emeritus published Friday in English at the official Web site of the Russian Church’s Department of External Church Relations, Kirill expresses his “fraternal love in Christ and respect.”
He speaks of Benedict XVI’s decision to step down as one of simplicity and humility.
“We have always held dear your consistent position characterized by [an] uncompromising stand in the questions of faith and commitment to the living church tradition. In an age when the ideology of all-permissiveness and moral relativism tries to force moral values out of people’s life, you boldly raised your voice in the defense of the Gospel’s ideal, the lofty dignity of human beings and their calling to freedom from sin,” the patriarch wrote.
Kirill said he remembered “with warmth” the meetings the two had before Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope. Many hoped that Benedict XVI would be able to meet with Patriarch Kirill during his pontificate.
Though a meeting never happened, Kirill suggested that Benedict XVI brought the Churches closer.
“In the years of your pontificate, a good development was given to relations between our Churches who bear a great responsibility for common witness to [the] Crucified and Risen Christ in the modern world,” he said.
“I sincerely hope that good and confidential relations established with your active participation will develop under your successor,” the patriarch added.
“Kindly accept my heartfelt wishes of good health, many years of life and God’s help in your life devoted to prayer and in your theological work,” he concluded. “‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace’ (Rom. 15:13).”