Moscow (AsiaNews) - In a message to Benedict XVI posted on the website of the Moscow Patriarchate, Kirill, patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father for his stance on matters of faith. He extended his wishes that he may have the strength to continue and that relations between Orthodox and Catholics may continue to develop under the new pontiff.
"On these days so special for you, I would like to express to you my feelings of fraternal love in Christ and respect," the message read. "The decision you declared with such simplicity and humbleness on February 11 has found a lively response in the hearts of many Catholics."
"We have always held dear your consistent position characterized by 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."
Patriarch Kirill went on to remember the "warmth" he felt in meeting the pope when he was still Card Joseph Ratzinger. "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 Crucified and Risen Christ in the modern world."
In concluding, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed his sincere hope that "good and confidential relations" between Catholics and Orthodox "established with your active participation will develop under your successor."
Lastly, "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." (N.A.)