Mr Putin stressed the exceptional importance of a rapprochement between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). It was of extreme significance for the integration of Russia into the world and for the ROCOR, he said.
Metropolitan Laurus presented Mr Putin an icon of St Elizabeth the Holy Martyr and an Orthodox Church calendar as the President gave the ROCOR the gift of an icon of the Old Testament Trinity and the album The Orthodox Kremlin. The Kremlin was not only the seat of the Russian secular power but also the Russian spiritual heart, Mr Putin stressed.
Established in November 1920, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has parishes in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Its Synod moved to Jordanville, NY, in 1950.
As he was meeting with members of the ROCOR Synod, Mr Putin passed them an invitation of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, and his own personal invitation, to visit Russia. The invitation was gratefully accepted.
During his sojourn in New York City, Mr Putin also met with Bishop Mercury of Zaraisk, the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the US.
The bishop told him about the restoration and reconstruction of St Nicholas Cathedral, which Bishop Tikhon, later the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, founded in New York City more than a hundred years ago.
They discussed the problems of Orthodox Russians living in the United States, and the prospects and tentative forms of the Moscow Patriarchate’s dialogue with the ROCOR in the context of the two Churches’ assessment of the history of their relations.
Mr Putin presented St Nicholas Cathedral and the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the US a reliquary containing the relics of the holy martyr Hilarion Troitsky, the closest disciple of the canonised Patriarch Tikhon. Bishop Mercury gave him a return gift of a photo album reflecting all stages of the restoration of St Nicholas Cathedral and depicting its present-day appearance.