President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Your Holiness, let me congratulate you most sincerely [on the enthronement anniversary] and wish you all the very best.
I want to say a big thank you to you for developing the Russian Orthodox Church and for strengthening the unity of our people and society.
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill: Thank you for these kind words and for the cooperation that exists between the Church and the state authorities.
We are aware of the great progress we have made in this wonderful dialogue that aims to consolidate our society and develop all facets of its life, especially the spiritual and moral side of our people’s life. I thank you for your very active involvement and for your pivotal role in this effort.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
I understand that the enthronement anniversary is a special event in the lives of people who have devoted themselves to serving the church. It is a day that is out of the ordinary, a special kind of anniversary, and from all my heart, I congratulate you on this occasion and wish you all the very best.
You met recently with clergy from other churches.
Patriarch Kirill: Yes, with the heads of churches.
Vladimir Putin: The heads of Orthodox churches.
Patriarch Kirill: Yes, I met with all of them except for three who were unable to come for various reasons. The meeting took place in Geneva and was very productive, although these meetings are never without their difficulties.
The outcome, however, is that we have some very positive documents that were published at the Russian Orthodox Church’s insistence, because the critical attitude towards the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council, which was what the summit, or as we say in Greek, the Synaxis of heads of Orthodox churches, was about, centres on the closed nature of this process.
We had opposed this for a long time, said it was not the right approach and that the draft documents should be published. We need to have feedback from people, from the faithful, not just from the clergy, but from laypeople too. They should have the chance to comment on these documents. Our voice was not heard at that stage, but in Geneva, we reached such an agreement, the documents have been published, and the fears will vanish, of course.
We also found compromise solutions, from the point of view of church interests, but these are positive solutions for everyone, including for the Russian Orthodox Church. With God’s help, we faced various trials, but were able to produce a good result.
Vladimir Putin: That is good. It is another step towards consolidating Orthodoxy’s unity, and this is very important.