Vladimir Putin : Your Holiness! Your Eminence! Dear guests!
I am sincerely pleased to be able to welcome you within the ancient walls of the Faceted Palace of the Moscow Kremlin. And I offer you my warmest congratulations for this truly unique event, the signing of the Act on Canonical Communion that marks the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church.
It is precisely this unity that has always allowed the Church to take active part in constructing and strengthening the thousand-year old Russian statehood. It has acted as a foundation and a source of its moral values and spiritual traditions.
And therefore the restoration of the Church’s integrity that is taking place right in front of us today will also have ramifications outside the Church. It represents an important spiritual impetus for consolidating the entire Orthodox world, the entire Russian world. A world that was tragically divided by revolution and civil war.
Millions of our compatriots were forced to leave their Motherland and were scattered all over the world. And we must understand the extent of the serious difficulties they faced as émigrés to be able to appreciate fully the mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
The Church Abroad did not simply, as they say, keep the vestments clean — it fully performed its duty to God and the Russian people. For decades it shared all the hardships of life in exile with many Russian citizens — almost with all Orthodox people — and provided support to millions. It helped to not only preserve faith but also its national identity, to help preserve its native culture, language and the spirit of Russia.
Many participants in today’s meeting have lived through confrontation and mistrust between the churches. They have lived through the prohibition and persecution of their faith in their Motherland. But we are well aware that during those long decades of division the clergy of both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church were deeply concerned about the fate of our Fatherland, the destiny of the Motherland, and that both fervently prayed for our country.
Today’s victory was possible due to their goodwill and sincere desire to reunite the Orthodox Church. And therefore to restore the Church’s dignified role, entirety and greatness.
To a great extent, this revival occurred because of the constant work of Patriarch of Moscow and all-Russia Aleksei II. Already 17 years ago, just after his election to the Patriarchate, he initiated a movement to overcome the division and entered into dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. We must also pay tribute to Metropolitan Laurus for his tireless efforts in this direction.
Naturally, this dialogue took place with the full support of the federal authorities of the Russian Federation. And to a large degree this dialogue was also a result of the fact that our society really did support the constitutional principles relating to freedom of worship. And it was the product of the rebirth and renewal of ecclesiastical life in Russia.
Over the past few years we have developed unprecedented relations with the Russian Orthodox Church that have helped us achieve key national objectives, both social and educational ones. The clergy has made an invaluable contribution to supporting interreligious and interethnic dialogue and peace in Russia.
The Church Abroad has comparable work experience. It is extremely important for us. And I am confident that the Church’s unity will give it the force to double its efforts and devotion to our Fatherland.
Of course restoring canonical communion is just the first step towards coming even closer together. You still must overcome many resulting effects of the split and restore our compatriots’ lost respect for the Motherland. And in general we have to strengthen the unity of the people both within and outside of Russia.
However, the most important thing is that we share a sincere desire to increase the well-being of our Fatherland.
I am sure that the most important work to unite the Russian world will be actively pursued, and that the newly-reunited Russian Orthodox Church will participate in this endeavour.
Allow me to thank all of those who participated in today’s event. And to wish you many years of active service to people, to the Church, to the Motherland and to God. Those who put their signatures on this historic document have undoubtedly entered their names not only in the history of the Orthodox Church but also in the history of Russia.