Patriarch Praises Russian Leaders for Unity With Church

The head of the Orthodox Christian Church has praised Russian political leaders Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin for their willingness to cooperate with the Russian Orthodox Church.

"I express my gratitude on behalf of the Church of Constantinople, as well as from myself personally to the two great Christian leaders. They did not hesitate to publicly declare their faith and piety," said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Tuesday, according to Interfax news.

Bartholomew is currently on a 10-day trip to Russia at the invitation of Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill, who is making efforts to strengthen relationships with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Vatican, and the Russian State.

Meeting with Kirill and Medvedev in the Kremlin on Tuesday, Bartholomew said that he, "rejoice[s] in the good relations and cooperation existing between the state and the Russian Church."

"The Russian leadership and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church are writing new pages in history," he said. "Russian society asserts itself on its traditional moral values, on Christian ideals; it is the best guarantee of the people's future."

Regarding his overall visit to the Russian Orthodox Church, Bartholomew said that it is "developing with great success and proceeding with the blessing of God."

"This is evidenced by the fact that we have entered a new stage in relations between the Churches of Russia and the Church of Constantinople," the patriarch said, adding that he believes this success is largely the merit of "such an energetic person" as Patriarch Kirill.

"God is with you! With Russia, with its people, its church!" Bartholomew added.

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