19 December 2016, 11:05
Patriarch Kirill congratulates Pope on 80th birthday, notes his high global standing
Moscow, December 19, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia congratulated Pope Francis on his 80th birthday anniversary on December 17.
"The life path of Your Holiness is entirely associated with the service to God and the Church. From early years, following your pastoral calling, you dedicated all your talents and aspirations to preaching the Word of God and active love for neighbor. Knowing how difficult the cross is of the selfless pastoral service, I am convinced that your path was not easy yet it was blessed, bringing spiritual solace and joy to your flock," according to the patriarchal congratulation quoted by the communication service of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations.
The Pope rightfully earned love and respect in his home country where became Archbishop of Buenos Aires and head of the Argentine Church, the patriarch said.
"Over the several years of service [as Pope], marked by peacekeeping efforts, the preaching of the love of Christ, helping the poor and assisting the cause of Christian unity, you earned respect the world over," according to the document.
The Russian patriarch noted the high degree of mutual understanding recently achieved in the bilateral relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches, not least thanks to Pope Francis' position.
"Our meeting in Havana in February of this year will remain unforgettable for me: it gave a new impetus to the well-wishing dialogue and cooperation between our Churches for the sake of peace, justice, strengthening of moral values in society and overcoming of differences among Christians," he said.
In conclusion the patriarch wished the Pope good health, spiritual strength and God's help, finishing with a wish for a long life in Latin: "Ad multos annos! To many years!"