Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his message to Kirill, the new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, on the occasion of his enthronement, Benedict XVI expressed his hope for Christian reunification and further rapprochement between Catholics and Russian Orthodox.
The message was delivered by Card Walter Kasper, chairman of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, who led a Vatican delegation to Moscow. The cardinal also brought a chalice as a token of the Pope’s desire to “reach full communion soon.”
Benedict XVI, who had expressed his best wishes to the new patriarch right after his election, reiterated in the message “my esteem and my spiritual closeness”, readily recalling the meetings he had with the patriarch when he chaired the Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations.
“[Y]ou yourself played an outstanding role in forging a new relationship between our Churches,” wrote the Pope, “a relationship based on friendship, mutual acceptance and sincere dialogue in facing the difficulties of our common journey. It is my earnest hope that we will continue to cooperate in finding ways to foster and strengthen communion in the Body of Christ, in fidelity to our Saviour’s prayer that all may be one, so that the world may believe (cf Jn, 17:21).
“You,” the message went on to say, “are now the successor of our beloved brother of revered memory, His Holiness Aleksij II, who left his people a deep and abiding inheritance of ecclesial renewal and development, as he led the Russian Orthodox Church out of the long and difficult period of suffering under the totalitarian and atheistic system to a new, active presence and service in today’s society. Patriarch Aleksij II worked assiduously for the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church and for communion with the other Orthodox Churches. He likewise maintained a spirit of openness and cooperation with other Christians, and with the Catholic Church in particular, for the defence of Christian values in Europe and in the world. I am certain that Your Holiness will continue to build on this solid foundation, for the good of your people and for the benefit of Christians everywhere.”