Russian Patriarch Kirill Congratulates New Pope on Election

Russian Patriarch Kirill Congratulates New Pope on Election
# 15 March 2013 02:38 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has congratulated Pope Francis on his election as the new head of the Roman Catholic Church and expressed hope for cooperation, the Russian Orthodox Church said Thursday, APA reports quoting RIA Novosti.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was elected Wednesday by a conclave of cardinalsto be the 266th pope to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. He took the name of Francis.

“Under your predecessor - Pope Benedict XVI, relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches received a new impetus and were marked by positive dynamics,” Patriarch Kirill, who leads the Russian Church, said.

“I sincerely hope that Your Holiness will also contribute to cooperation between our Churches for it to develop in the spirit of brotherly love and mutual understanding,” the Russian patriarch’s message says.

The Russian Church leader said the name the new pope had chosen, Francis, recalled well-known Catholic saints serving as an example of “sacrificial dedication of themselves to the afflicted” and ardent Gospel preaching.

“In this we can see your desire to keep caring about the poor and afflicted, for whom you showed mercy and love during the long years of your ministry in Argentina, to continue preaching Christ crucified and resurrected to the modern world,” Patriarch Kirill said.

“The same ministry is a priority for the Russian Orthodox Church today too, which opens a chance for joint work and interaction with the Roman Catholic Church,” he said.

The patriarch also said both Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics should unite forces to defend fellow believers in countries where they are persecuted, and to affirm traditional moral values in the modern secular world.

The Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches have repeatedly spoken against gay marriages, abortions and euthanasia. During his Argentinian ministry, Cardinal Bergoglio affirmed church teachings on those issues and is expected to retain his conservative views as Pope Francis.

Stephen Schneck, Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies (IPR) at The Catholic University of America, recently said in an interview with RIA Novosti that the new pope will not change the stance on key teachings at the very foundation of the Catholic Church.

“No new pope is going to change the church position on abortion or gay marriage or other hot button issues, but we hope he will find a way to convey the church’s traditional views in a way that is appealing to contemporary Americans,” he said.

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