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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2009 (VIS) - At the end of his general audience this morning, the Pope expressed his happiness at the election of Metropolitan Kirill as the new Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. "Upon him I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit", he said.

  Kirill, who is currently metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, and president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, succeeds Patriarch Alexis II who died on 5 December 2008.

  In an English-language telegram sent to the newly-elected Patriarch, the Pope writes: "May the Almighty bless your efforts to maintain communion among the Orthodox Churches and to seek that fullness of communion which is the goal of Catholic-Orthodox collaboration and dialogue.

  "I assure Your Holiness", he adds, "of my spiritual closeness and of the Catholic Church's commitment to co-operate with the Russian Orthodox Church for an ever clearer witness of the truth of the Christian message and to the values which alone can sustain today's world along the way of peace, justice and loving care of the marginalised".

  In a communique published today, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity also expressed its joy at the election of "a Patriarch with whom we have maintained fraternal relations for many years, and who met the Holy Father immediately following his election in April 2005, and again in the months of May 2006 and December 2007.

  "We trust we will be able to continue together down the path of mutual understanding we have already begun. We do not, of course, wish to lose sight of the difficulties that still remain, but we are ready and willing to co-operate in the social and cultural fields in order to bear witness to Christian values while, nonetheless, not forgetting that the ultimate aim of dialogue is the realisation of the testament of Jesus Christ our Lord: the full communion of all His disciples.

  "We hope and pray that God may grant the new Patriarch abundant blessings and guide him with the gifts of strength and wisdom".
CON-UC/NEW RUSSIAN PATRIARCH/...                VIS 20090128 (350)

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