President Vladimir Putin : First of all, your Holiness, Easter is approaching. And I would like to congratulate you on this holiday – you and all Orthodox believers in Russia. I know that in May you are scheduled to meet with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and to sign the corresponding document about reuniting the churches. This really is an event of immense significance not only for the Church, but also for Russian society in general. I know how much you have done to prepare for this event and I hope that everything will proceed smoothly.
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexii II: Thank you very much for your good wishes. We are now in the Passion Week that precedes Holy Easter. We hope to see you at the Easter morning service and congratulate you on this Holy Easter holiday on behalf of all Orthodox believers.
And the second thing. It is true that an act reuniting the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad with the Moscow Patriarchate will be signed on May 17, 2007. This is the holiday of the Ascension of the Lord. We have developed a detailed programme governing how this will take place. I am giving you the whole programme for you to look over. I am asking you to do so because you made a tremendous contribution by meeting with the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in New York. I hope that you will be able to witness this historic event.
Indeed, this event is not only a religious event – it is also one that brings together Russians who were separated when they were abroad because of chance, historical conditions, and the tragedy that befell our people? an era of persecution of faith and the Church began.
Today 80 years have gone by. The Church has benefited from freedom in Russia and I think that we have overcome all reasons and obstacles that had prevented such a reunification. Let us hope that we overcome the division that existed for 80 years and that a United Russian Orthodox Church will pursue its work in Russia and abroad. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will become part of a United Russian Church as will the increasing number of parishes we have abroad – many Russians abroad raise the issue of establishing an Orthodox parish. And Orthodox churches are aware of their living relationship with the Motherland and the Church.