11/21/2016, 13.43
RUSSIA – VATICAN
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Patriarch Kirill celebrated his 70th birthday, to meet Card Koch tomorrow

by Marta Allevato

The Russian Orthodox primate yesterday celebrated his birthday with an exhibition, gifts and special TV programme. President Putin sent him a telegram and revealed that he was probably baptised by the patriarch’s father.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia celebrated his 70th birthday on Sunday. The event was marked by an exhibition dedicated to his ministry, greetings from President Vladimir Putin and the visit of representatives of Orthodox Churches. A representative of the Catholic Church is also scheduled to meet him. The anniversary was widely covered by the media.

Yesterday, after the religious service in Moscow’s Cathedral Christ the Saviour, Orthodox youth presented the patriarch with a big cake baked under the supervision of the best culinary experts the patriarch. 

For his part, the patriarch asked the pastors of Moscow churches not to give him flowers, but to donate instead money to St Alexy Hospital in the Russian capital, the Interfax news agency reported.

Kirill, whose real name is Vladimir Gundyayev, was born on 20 November 1946 in Leningrad, like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His father and grandfather were priests and fought against the closing of churches and Soviet state atheism. For this reason, they were both sentenced to forced labour camps.

In an interview for a documentary titled 'The Patriarch', which aired yesterday on TV Rossiya-24, Putin said that he was secretly baptised by his mother, in the 1950s, in Leningrad’s Cathedral of the Transfiguration by a certain Father Mikhail, possibly Kirill’s father.

According to the President, the Patriarch himself told him that his father was on duty at that time in the Cathedral of the Transfiguration and was the only priest called Mikhail.

Kirill was a disciple of Metropolitan Nikodim (Rostov), ​​who laid the foundation for the dialogue between Christians of different denominations.

Before he was elected primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2009, Kirill headed the diocese of Smolensk and Kaliningrad and the Patriarchate’s ‘foreign ministry’, i.e. the Department for External Church Relations.

"You have devoted many years of selfless service to the Russian Orthodox Church in a consistent and steadfast defence of its values and ideas," Putin said in his telegram of greetings to the primate, noting the "huge contribution you are making in the development of inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogues, in strengthening peace and social accord in our country."

The Patriarch is scheduled to meet with Card Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in Moscow, tomorrow. "Koch is in Moscow to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Russian Orthodox Church primate," the Patriarchate’s press office said.

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