2013-05-27 17:58:00

Putin invites Patriarch Theophilos to join Baptism of Russia celebrations

Sochi, May 27, Interfax - President Vladimir Putin received Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Patriarch Theophilos of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine at his residence in Sochi on Monday.

Putin invited Patriarch Theophilos to join celebrations of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia. "I hope to see you during celebrations of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia," Putin said. He wished the patriarch of Jerusalem "a useful stay in Russia." The patriarch of Jerusalem has never been in Russia on a visit.

Putin also thanked Patriarch Theophilos for supporting Russia's initiative to build a hotel for pilgrims on the bank of the Jordan River.

Russians have maintained very good relations with Jerusalem, Putin said. He also spoke about traditionally cordial and strong ties between the Moscow and Jerusalem patriarchates.

Patriarch Kirill in turn said that Theophilos's visit was of great importance, noting that, "this meeting will definitely promote relations between the two patriarchates."

The Russian patriarch also said that these contacts will hopefully "facilitate all the good initiatives Russia has been implementing for the sake of peace in the Middle East."

"It is very important that peace, prosperity and tranquility set in the Holy Land, blessed by God's feet," the Patriarch Kirill said.

Patriarch Theophilos said his visit to Russia was of great historical significance. "This visit is a seal that cements relations between our churches, and between the godly Russian people and the godly people of Palestine," he said.

On behalf of the Christians of Jordan, Palestine and the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, Patriarch Theophilos thanked Putin "for an active interest in the Holy Land and its sacred places, and in the cause of peace in the Middle East."

Putin's recent visit to Israel, Palestine and Jordan "is of enormous importance from the political and religious points of view," he said.

"We pray for you as a leader who attaches primary importance to the cause of strengthening human and Orthodox values," he told Putin.