.- Following the general audience address today in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Benedict shared his happiness at hearing that Metropolitan Kirill was elected the new Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. The Holy Father also said in a telegram to the patriarch-elect that he hopes full communion between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches can be achieved.
"Upon him I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit for a generous service to the Russian Orthodox Church, entrusting him to the special protection of the Mother of God,” the Pope prayed as he noted the Metropolitan’s election.
Metropolitan Kirill, is currently the leader of the Orthodox Church in Smolensk and Kaliningrad, and serves as the president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow. He will succeed Patriarch Alexy II, this coming Sunday.
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 marginalized."
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity also voiced its pleasure at the fact that the Orthodox elected "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.”