The Society of St John Chrysostom has translated the message sent by Kirill, Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, to Benedict XVI, on 1 March. Given that historically the Russian Orthodox have not had a whole lot of nice things to say about the Church of Rome, the warm and fraternal tone of this message is yet another example of the progress made in Benedict’s pontificate in the field of true ecumenism. Not so long ago this message would not have been conceivable. This follows after the equally warm message sent by Bartholomew, Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. Patriarch Kirill’s message is worth reading, because one day it will be seen as a little but significant piece of history.
In these exceptional days for you, I would like to express the feelings of brotherly love in Christ and respect.
The decision to leave the position of Bishop of Rome, which you, with humility and simplicity, announced on February 11 this year, has found a ready response in the hearts of millions of Catholics.
We have always been close to your consistent ministry, marked by uncompromisingness in matters of faith and unswerving adherence to the living Tradition of the Church. At a time when the ideology of permissiveness and moral relativism tries to dislodge the moral values of life, you boldly raised your voice in defence of the ideals of the Gospel, the high dignity of man and his vocation to freedom from sin.
I have warm memories of our meeting when you were elected to the Roman See. During your ministry we received a positive impetus in the relations between our Churches, responding to the modern world as a witness to Christ crucified and risen. I sincerely hope what developed during your active participation, a good trusting relationship between the Orthodox and the Catholics, will continue to grow with your successor.
Please accept my sincere wishes for good health, long life and help from above in prayer and in your theological writings.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace” (Romans 15:13).
With love in the Lord,
+ Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Gosh it’s good.