Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier has sent a letter congratulating Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad on his appointment as Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The text reads as follows:
"Please accept my sincere congratulations on your election as Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. I wish you much stamina, every success and God's blessing in carrying out the demanding duties of your new office, the highest in Russian Orthodox Christianity.
With this election, the Church Council underscored the great confidence you have gained as a leading theologian and guiding intellectual force in your church, as a bridge-builder to people, both within the scope of the ecumenical movement and in the wider world. As Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, you have had close relations with various churches as well as with international political leaders for almost two decades. I am thinking here in particular of the meeting of religious leaders in the run-up to the G8 summit in Moscow in 2006.
I would like to thank you for the offer of continued close cooperation you extended in your letter of 21 January. In Germany, and for me personally, you have long since been a highly valued interlocutor. I recall with pleasure our meetings and fruitful talks, most recently in May of last year. I look forward to future encounters with you in your new capacity."