released today the text of a message sent by the Pope to the Russian
patriarch, and in turn, one from Alexis II back to the Holy Father.
They were exchanged in February.
20th, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the Holy See’s vice dean of the
College of Cardinals, was in Moscow to present the Russian patriarch
with the Pope's Message along with a gold medal commemorating the
after presiding at a solemn liturgy celebrated on February 24th in
Moscow’s Cathedral of the Holy Savior, Alexis II presented his own
message for the Pope along with a pectoral cross as a sign of his
gratitude and respect for the Holy Father.
The Liturgy was held in honor of the patriarch’s birthday and name day.
In his Message,
Pope Benedict said 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.”
He went on to
write that "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 Holy Father
stressed that the modern world "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
In his Message,
Partiarch Alexis II thanked Benedict for his greetings and wrote that
"In our own times, with the rapid growth of secularism, Christianity
finds itself facing important challenges that require a shared
convinced," he continued, "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
“I hope”, he
wrote, “that the rapid resolution of outstanding problems between our
two Churches will also contribute to this end."
patriarch concluded his message extending his "best wishes for good
health" to the Pope and invoked God’s assistance "in carrying out the
exalted office of primate of the Roman Catholic Church."
Benedict XVI has told His Holiness Alexis II, patriarch of Moscow and
all Russia, that the world today needs to hear voices indicating the
way of peace, condemning violence and upholding the dignity of
individuals and their human rights.