Pope thanks Russian Orthodox Patriarch for their growing friendship

.- During his visit to Russia, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity met with Holiness Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow, and delivered a message from the Holy Father.  In his letter, Pope Benedict highlighted the similarities of the two Christian religions and expressed gratitude for the dialogue between the two churches.

The Pope writes that Cardinal Kasper’s visit to Russia provides a timely opportunity for the Pontiff to extend his greetings to the Russian Orthodox Church, “to express my esteem for your ministry in the Russian Orthodox Church and to restate my appreciation for your commitment to fostering relations between Catholics and Orthodox."

"It is with joy that I reflect on the experience of growing closeness between us, accompanied by the shared desire to promote authentic Christian values and to witness to our Lord in ever deeper communion.”  To emphasize this point, the Pope recalled the “recent visit of Your Holiness to Strasbourg and Paris, and the warm welcome given to the Catholic archbishop of the archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow during the Christmas celebrations last year.”

"Another sign of fraternity and friendship towards the Catholic Church is to be seen in the invitation extended to Cardinal Kasper by His Eminence Kirill, metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, to visit that eparchy on the occasion of his name-day. This is not only a sign of personal goodwill, but also a gesture towards the Catholic Church which Cardinal Kasper represents."

Additionally, the Pope mentions that the cardinal will visit Kazan to venerate the icon of the Mother of God that Pope John Paul II sent to Alexis II.  “This icon represents a strong closeness between us” and “also provides an opportunity to encounter Muslims, who show great respect for Mary, the Mother of God.”

After reiterating his gratitude to Alexis II for his dialogue with various religions, the Pope concluded with a final blessing.  "May the Risen Savior grant you health, peace and inner joy, and may he bring us closer to each other, that we may undertake together our journey towards full communion in Him."


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