The Orthodox patriarch was born Feb. 29, 1940, the “leap day” that occurs every four years. Thus, he will celebrate his birthday this year on Monday, March 1.
Cardinal Walter Kasper wrote the message to affirm his “grateful recollection of the many fraternal meetings we have had over the last ten years.”
He noted that the “friendship, mutual trust and sincerity that have always characterised our conversations” are “a great gift and a sign of progress in relations between our Churches.”
The cardinal expressed the hope that the patriarch “may continue to show tireless commitment in contributing to ever deeper knowledge and more fruitful collaboration between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.”
In this way, he said, we can “offer the world a common witness of our faith in our One Lord Jesus Christ.”