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Friday, March 17, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 17, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today were two Messages, exchanged between Benedict XVI and His Holiness Alexis II, patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, during the month of February.

  At a meeting in Moscow, Russia that took place on February 20, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice dean of the College of Cardinals, presented the patriarch with the Pope's Message and with a gold medal commemorating the current pontificate. In his turn, Alexis II, following a solemn liturgy celebrated of February 24 in the cathedral of the Holy Savior in Moscow to mark his birthday and name day, presented the cardinal with his own Message and a pectoral cross for the Holy Father, as a sign of his gratitude and respect.

  In his Message, the Pope declares that he "spiritually associates" himself with the patriarch's double celebration, and invokes "abundant blessings from the Lord upon your person and your ministry, so generously dedicated to the great cause of the Gospel.

  "The gestures and words of renewed fraternity between pastors of the Lord's flock show how ever more intense collaboration in truth and charity contribute to increasing the spirit of communion, which must guide the steps of all the baptized."

  The modern world, Benedict XVI continues, "needs to hear voices indicating the way of peace, of respect for everyone, of condemnation for all forms of violence, of the higher dignity of all individuals and of their intrinsic rights."

  In his Message, Alexis II thanks Benedict XVI for his greetings and writes: "In our own times, with the rapid growth of secularism, Christianity finds itself facing important challenges that require a shared testimony.

  "I am convinced," the patriarch continues, "that one of today's priorities for our Churches, which have a shared vision of the many problems currently facing the modern world, must be the defense and affirmation in society of the Christian values by which humanity has lived for more than a millennium. I hope that the rapid resolution of outstanding problems between our two Churches will also contribute to this end."

  The patriarch concludes his Message by expressing his "best wishes for good health" to the Holy Father and invoking divine assistance "in carrying out the exalted office of primate of the Roman Catholic Church."
BXVI-LETTER/GREETINGS/ALEXIS II                    VIS 20060317 (390)

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