Russia - On 23 April 2005 a delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate led by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, arrived in Rome. The delegation included Archbishop Mitrofan of Pereyaslavl-Khmelnitsky, Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and Rev. Igor Vyzhanov, acting DECR MP secretary for inter-Christian relations.
In the evening, on the eve of the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem, Metropolitan Kirill officiated at the festive all-night vigil service in the church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. Concelebrating were the members of the delegation. Metropolitan Kirill warmly greeted the worshippers and called them to keep the Orthodox faith, always feeling the presence of God in the world and discerning the acts of His mercy in the life of all people.
On the same day the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Cardinal Walter Kasper gave dinner in honour of the representatives of different Churches and international Christian organizations who arrived to take part in the inauguration ceremony of Pope Benedict XVI.
On 24 April 2005 the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate attended the inauguration ceremony of Pope Benedict XVI.
The solemn divine service during which the newly elected Pope was presented with the symbols of pontifical power - the pallium and the Papal ring with an image of St. Peter - was held in St. Peter's Square. Attending the service were representatives of the Christian Churches and other world religious, leaders of states and governments and pilgrims from different countries of the world.
In his homily Pope Benedict XVI noted the challenges to the modern world and touched upon the problems of Christian religious life: 'There is the desert of God's darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast,' he said. 'We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death, in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and bring us into the splendour of God's light, into true life.'
That same day the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in the Italian Republic A.Y.Meshkov gave a dinner in honour of the church delegation that arrived in Rome.
On 25 April 2005, members of the delegations of the Local Orthodox Churches, various Christian confessions and other religions, who attended the inauguration of the newly elected Pope of Rome, were received by Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace of Vatican.
Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, conveyed to the Pope congratulations and greetings from His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, and Archbishop Mitrofan of Pereyaslavl-Khmelnitsky, Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, greeted Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine.
During the conversation between Metropolitan Kirill and Pope Benedict XVI, the Head of the Roman Catholic Church conveyed his reciprocal brotherly greetings to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and said that he agreed with the necessity to develop cooperation between the two Churches and to defend common Christian values in the life of the present-day Europe. The importance of overcoming the difficulties which exist in the relations between the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Churches was underlined.
The Pope noted a particular importance of the theological and liturgical traditions of the Orthodox East and expressed his respect for the mission and pastoral ministry of the Russian Orthodox Church.
That same day Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the divine service in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls attended by many worshippers, venerated the relics of the Holy Apostle and delivered a homily. Present at the divine service were delegations of the Local Orthodox Churches and other Christian confessions that took part in the inauguration festivities.