18 April 2010
In a historic meeting between three heads of Orthodox churches, the Coptic Orthodox patriarch Pope Shenouda III last week met His Beatitude Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and His Beatitude Theodoros II, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa. Patriarch Kirill, who was seated last year, was on a visit to Alexandria during which he was received by Pope Shenouda III at the papal residence in Alexandria.
The two patriarchs exchanged words of warm courtesy, with Pope Shenouda applauding the deep relations between the Church of Alexandria and the Russian Church as well as the Greek Orthodox Church in Egypt. He fondly recalled that he had visited Russia twice; one of these visits was during the millenial celebration of the Russian Church.
Patriach Kirill, for his part, stressed the compassion between the churches of Russia and Alexandria and the ongoing theological dialogue between them. It is not a difficult dialogue, he said, but is one in which each Church respects its own particularity even as it reaches out towards the other.
The patriarchs exchanged gifts. Patriarch Kirill offered Pope Shenouda an icon of the brass serpent, while Pope Shenouda offered him an icon of the Lord Jesus Christ, and offered Patriarch Theodoros an icon of the Holy Virgin.
Patriarch Kirill participated in the service of Holy Mass with Patriarch Theodoros at the Lady of the Annunciation church in Alexandria. Attending the Mass were the Russian ambassador to Cairo, the Russian Consul in Alexandria, and members of the Russian and Greek Orthodox communities in Egypt.
The visit of Patriarch Kirill comes within the Russian Church’s traditional protocol that a Russian patriarch should pay visits to the patriarchs of sister Orthodox churches. Patriarch Kirill, who was seated in January 2009, visited Constantinople last year, and will be visiting the Church of Antioch in Syria next. With a congregation of some 170 million inside and outside Russia, the Russian Church is the largest Orthodox Church.