In a message sent by Benedict XVI to His Holiness Kirill for the occasion of his enthronement as patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the Holy Father says that it is his hope that the communion between the Catholic and the Orthodox Church will be strengthened “so that the world may believe.”
The message, made public today, was delivered by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity along with a chalice from the Pope "as a sign of the desire to achieve full communion as soon as possible."
Kirill was installed as the patriarch in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior on Sunday.
In his English-language message, Benedict XVI relates his "esteem" and "spiritual closeness" to the new patriarch, and prays “that our heavenly Father will grant you the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit in your ministry and enable you to guide the Church in the love and peace of Christ."
Bringing to mind Kirill’s predecessor, the Holy Father notes that Alexis II “left his people a deep and abiding inheritance of ecclesial renewal and development. ... He likewise maintained a spirit of openness and co-operation with other Christians, and with the Catholic Church in particular, for the defense of Christian values in Europe and in the world.
"I am certain," he adds, "that Your Holiness will continue to build on this solid foundation, for the good of your people and for the benefit of Christians everywhere.”
Pope Benedict also goes on to reflect on the new patriarch’s previous role as president of the Department of External Church Relations. “You yourself played an outstanding role in forging a new relationship between our Churches, a relationship based on friendship, mutual acceptance and sincere dialogue in facing the difficulties of our common journey.”
"It is my earnest hope," the Holy Father concludes, "that we will continue to co-operate in finding ways to foster and strengthen communion in the Body of Christ, in fidelity to our Savior's prayer that all may be one, so that the world may believe."