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Meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

May 25, 2010, The Kremlin, Moscow

During the meeting, Dmitry Medvedev stressed that Russia’s government highly appreciates the constructive and substantive dialogue that has developed between the Church and the state in recent years.

The President expressed confidence that the Ecumenical Patriarch’s visit to Russia will contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations between the Russian and Constantinople orthodox churches.

* * *

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Your Holiness, I am delighted to welcome you to the Kremlin. Your visit to our country is a very important event, and, undoubtedly, it contributes to the strengthening of the dialogue that has always existed between the two sister churches. And for Russia it is especially important, since the majority of people in our country self-identify as Russian Orthodox. That is why we are carefully following your visit and what is happening now.

Patriarch Kirill visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople last year, he was your guest. This year you are visiting us and, of course, I feel this is very important for the entire orthodox world. 

Russia has undergone a lot of changes in recent years, which we have all been living witnesses to. And I am very pleased, Your Holiness, that you will be able to see those beneficial and favourable – in my view – changes in our country’s life and in the life of our society, and in the dialogue that exists in our nation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the state.

Only this kind of dialogue can help us solve the very complicated tasks facing our country, and the tasks resulting from the very complicated economic situation that currently prevails in the world as a result of the global economic crisis. That is why we appreciate so much the constructive and full-fledged dialogue that has been developing with the Russian Orthodox Church in recent years.

Once again, allow me to express, Your Holiness, the hope that during your visit you will have an opportunity to learn more about our country’s life and the life of the Russian Orthodox Church today.

ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW I OF CONSTANTINOPLE (as translated from Russian): Your Excellency, I would like to begin by thanking you personally for the invitation. My escort and I are very happy to be in Russia today as guests of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.

We are delighted that our visit has coincided with the celebration of the Day of Slavic Literature and Culture, as well as the name day of Patriarch Kirill, whom we welcomed with great love and respect at our Patriarchate.

We, as the mother church, are happy to see the good relations of cooperation existing between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church leadership are writing a new chapter of history. The Russian society is firmly establishing itself based on its traditional moral values and Christian ideals. It is the best of guarantees for the future of the people.

Thank you Mr President.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia: Mr President,

I join His Holiness in thanking you for the opportunity to meet with you here in the Kremlin, together with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is on an official visit in Russia, an event of great importance for our bilateral relations.

We, all orthodox churches, local orthodox churches, are parts of one church; we belong to this single church: that is the right orthodox ecclesiology; there is only one Orthodox Church. But in every country, the orthodox have their own problems, confront their specific challenges. That is why it is so important for local orthodox church leaders to keep in touch, to communicate, in order to share ideas and pastoral experience.

There are also problems affecting all Orthodox, which we couldn’t even look into or solve for many years. And now the relations between our churches, and, in particular, this exchange of fraternal visits, and the good personal relations that have developed between us, help us solve these common Orthodox problems. Besides the official speeches we make, which aim to present our common position around the world, we are in constant fraternal dialogue on a daily basis, and this dialogue is a means – just as important as the exchanges at the official level — to convey meanings, knowledge, feelings, and all that we need to exchange for the common good.

But most importantly we pray together, we perform the divine liturgy together, and God is with us in this deed. And we believe that he leads our two churches and all Orthodox, along the way that is in his lap.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you.

May 25, 2010, The Kremlin, Moscow