President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Your Holiness, I am very happy for this opportunity to see you following your lengthy and serious visit to Ukraine.
Not long ago, we met and discussed the development of state-church relations, but I am very interested in hearing about your impressions of your visit to Ukraine.
Recently, our relations have been quite complicated, and we are not happy about that. Naturally, your assessment is highly important to us, so that we may re-establish good relations, including relations between states.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia: My trip to Ukraine is probably one of the most striking memories in my patriarchal service.
I met with tens of thousands, or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people, who reacted to my patriarchal visit with an enormous amount of love, sincerity, great inner energy, and a lot of passion.
When I was passing through these enormous crowds of people who were chanting “Kirill, our Patriarch!” I understood that the great spiritual commonality that has been created between our people over thousands of years has become a common basic value, one that simply cannot be shaken by passing politics. That is my most vivid impression.
The church, which remains outside the political conflict, which does not support either the right or the left, which does not insist on any given political project, simply serves to help people, also by building on these basic values, to make the world a better place – by improving our souls, we can improve the world.
I could feel the people’s deep faith, their confidence in God’s will, and their fervent prayers, and with that, all other matters fade into the background. In the face of this enormous common atmosphere of spirituality, our personal and political differences in opinion, as relevant as they are, become less significant. And most importantly, even given the current events, all those disputes become incommensurate with what I am saying, and can therefore be overcome.
I would like to appeal to you as the President of the Russian Federation (I have appealed to leaders and representatives of different parties): we must do everything we can to ensure that our people always feel a mutual closeness, while respecting the sovereignty of nations and taking into account the reality of modern politics. The people of Russia and Ukraine should feel comfortable in this common spiritual space, being a part of different nations and being the citizens of different states, but still being the sons and daughters of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is indeed very important. I very much relate to your conclusion that in spite of what has happened and in spite of our division into separate states, the special brotherly relations between our peoples must remain, regardless of who is in power or passing, often volatile politics of a given leader.
We will certainly discuss your pastoral visit. It is important for me, in part because it will help me draw many practical conclusions.