Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kirill was elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia at the end of January, 2009. The enthronement ceremony took place on February 1, 2009. It is the Russian Orthodox Church tradition to celebrate this anniversary every year.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Your Holiness, I want to congratulate you on the anniversary of your enthronement.
Time flies, three years have already gone by, and you have done much over this time to develop the Russian Orthodox Church and strengthen the relations between church and state.
We meet regularly to discuss the problems and priorities in our life today. I think that these contacts and your hard work have taken the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the state to a new level, and I do not hide the fact that this makes me very happy.
Your public work at home and abroad is very important. I realise how much effort this takes and I take this opportunity today to wish you health and success in your work as Patriarch, and to express the hope that this coming year will see the dialogue between church and state continue to develop in every aspect.
Once again, I congratulate you on the third anniversary of your enthronement.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia: Thank you very much, Mr President, for coming to the Moscow Patriarchate’s [Spiritual and Administrative] Centre at the Danilov Monastery on the anniversary of my enthronement.
These three years have gone by very fast, but at the same time have been filled with such a huge number of important events that all of my previous life seems dull in comparison. Indeed, the impressions of these last years have been so strong that what went before just seems to fade from view.
You know better than anyone just what difficulties, sorrows and joys our country has gone through and what impact they have had, including on the Church’s life. I think that the level of relations we have achieved today between the church and state is evidence that the main problem in our people’s lives over the course of long decades was that of restricted freedom, lack of freedom to choose one’s worldview, and oppression of people’s real rights to live, believe, pray or not pray, and live in accordance with their conscience.
Today we can say loud and clear that these problems have been resolved in Russia. We see an example of this in the tens of millions of Orthodox believers who fill our churches, some coming often, others less so, who rush eagerly t see holy relics brought for display, raise their children, and work in all fields of life: as politicians, businesspeople, specialists, military men, scientists, doctors, teachers, workers, and farmers. They have no difficulty now combining their religious convictions with their professional lives and can raise their children in accordance with their beliefs.
All of this was written in the charters and international laws that our country signed and adopted in its time. But people never thought that it could all become reality so soon, and some thought it would never happen. Today we can look back at Russia’s history and see that it has happened, and this is perhaps one of our greatest achievements today.
There is not a single issue on the agenda for church-state relations that does not in one way or another concern people’s rights, dignity and merits, and ability to determine their own worldview and road in life.
The country has travelled a long way of course, and the Church has travelled a long way too, and what is very important is that the Church, the state, and a large part of society have kept up their cooperation all this time.
I take this opportunity to thank you and the Government, the executive and legislative branches of power, and the large number of public organisations – civil society institutions, as they are called now – that have taken part in this work. I hope that the wonderful progress we have made over these years will not be stopped by any political upheavals and that Russia will continue to advance, continue to gather spiritual and material strength, so that our people will feel free and know they have the chance to choose their own road in life and live a decent life.
With these words I welcome you and your wife on this anniversary of my enthronement and thank you for your cooperation.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Your Holiness.