President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Your Holiness, esteemed Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches and participants in the Russian Orthodox Church Local Council,
The Local Council completed its work a few days ago by electing Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. It makes me happy to see the participants in the Local Council here in the Kremlin today, and it is my pleasure to once again offer you my congratulations, Your Holiness.
Great historic change has taken place in our country since the last Local Council met. In the new Russia, relations between church and state are built on the foundation of the constitutional principles of freedom of conscience and worship and non-intervention by the state authorities in religious organisations’ activities, and at the same time, on the state authorities’ recognition of the Church’s great contribution to building Russia’s statehood, developing its national culture and affirming spiritual and moral values in society. We highly value the Church’s social, educational and peacemaking work and its efforts to develop dialogue between faiths and peoples and promote peace and harmony in our country.
It is of principle importance that representatives of all the countries where the Church carries out its high spiritual mission took part in the Local Council. We support the Church’s efforts to strengthen the fraternal ties between Russia and its close neighbours. We are separated by national borders but we share a common past and common historic destiny. This election of a new Patriarch found the Church strong, having restored its integrity and canonical unity. Much credit for this goes to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II and Metropolitan Lavr, and to all of you of course, to all of the Orthodox clergy. The signing in May 2007, in Moscow, of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia ended the tragic split between the Russian people and gave decisive impetus to consolidating the Russian world, making our ties with our compatriots all around the globe stronger than ever.
I am also pleased to see here today the heads and representatives of the Local Churches, and I would like to thank you for your tireless efforts to preserve the traditions and spiritual treasures of Orthodoxy.
The Russian nation’s moral strength and its belief in the ideals of goodness, love and justice are at the foundation of all of our achievements and victories and our confident vision of the country’s future development. The Russian Orthodox Church has been a source of this strength for many centuries, and there can be no doubt that it will remain so in the future.
Thank you. I wish you good health and all the very best!