MOSCOW, November 20. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has wished a happy birthday to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and thanked him for his assistance to the government in maintaining interfaith peace.
A meeting of the president and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church took place in the Patriarchal Chambers of the Moscow Kremlin on Wednesday.
Putin handed a bouquet of white roses to Patriarch Kirill.
"I want to say thank you for your assistance to the state in maintaining inter-confessional peace and a good relationship between different faiths," the president said. "It goes beyond pastoral care as it is already a state mission."
For his part, Patriarch Kirill praised unprecedentedly constructive relations between the state and the church in contemporary Russia.
"Over 50 years of pastoral ministry, I have gone through different experiences when communicating with the state. However, whatever the experience might have been, it makes a human being wiser," he said. "Should we compare it to the current level of relations between the church and state in contemporary Russia, the rest surely appear rather vulnerable from the point of view of normal, objective criticism."
According to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, "these relations have reached today such a level that we can discuss a wide range of various issues and really interact at different levels for the benefit of our people."
Patriarch Kirill told the president: "Thank you for the fact that in modern Russia this dialogue and this cooperation have become possible."
"Thanks to the patriarch," Putin added.