I was grieved to learn about the death of Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, one of the oldest prelates of the Roman Catholic Church, with whom I was thoroughly acquainted. I would like to express my sincere condolences to you and all those who knew this outstanding church leader.
Cardinal Johannes Willebrands was well known and respected in the Orthodox world. A participant in Vatican II, gifted theologian and diplomat, he made an invaluable contribution to the development of Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. For twenty years he presided over the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Throughout his long life, Cardinal Willebrands selflessly served his flock and the cause of Christian unity, the establishment of good relations among believers in Christ in the spirit of brotherly love.
I pray that the Lord may repose his soul in the mansions of the righteous.
With love in Christ,
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
August 3, 2006