President Vladimir Putin: Your Holiness,
Please accept my warmest and most sincere congratulations on the 45th anniversary of your ordination to the bishopric. From all my heart I wish you good health, vigour and long life.
The years of your work are an example of devoted and noble service to the Lord, the Church and our Fatherland. Your wise words have given people hope, strengthened their belief in moral ideals and been a source of new energy for life. Your selfless work has earned you great authority among the Orthodox faithful and in Russian society as a whole.
The Russian Orthodox Church today is not just the guardian of our people’s centuries-old spiritual and cultural traditions, it helps the state resolve today’s most pressing social issues, playing an important part in educating young people and teaching a spirit of patriotism, justice and attachment to family values.
You have made an immense contribution to reviving the spiritual influence and social significance of the Orthodox Church.
You have always regarded your lofty mission with the utmost sense of responsibility and today you continue to work constantly on rebuilding churches, carrying out educational work and looking after the needs of our compatriots who have found themselves beyond Russia’s borders.
You have been very instrumental in beginning the historical process of rebuilding ties between the Moscow Patriarchy and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
I wish to express particular gratitude for your contribution to establishing a constructive dialogue with representatives of our country’s other religions. The ongoing contact between the senior clergy of our country’s different religions helps to consolidate civil peace and harmony in Russia. This is without doubt an example of authentic love for one’s homeland and one’s people.
Our meeting is taking place on the second anniversary of the monstrous crime committed by terrorists in Beslan. The murder of innocent women and children shocked not only all of Russia but the entire world. This tragedy and the inconsolable grief of parents who have lost what is most dear – their own children – will always remain our common grief.
We remember that the Orthodox Church and you, Your Holiness, supported people through these tragic times, helping them with your pastoral words and your sincere care.
Thank you very much. I congratulate you once again.
Alexii II: We are grateful to the President for his words about the tragic events that we lived through, that our entire people lived through, two years ago when the tragedy at Beslan took place, a tragedy that saw terrorists, for whom nothing is holy, take the lives of children and adults.
In remembrance of this tragic day I propose that we sing the eternal memory of those who lost their lives in Beslan, all the children and adults who died at the hands of terrorists two years ago.
May their memory live forever.