Patriarch of Constantinople on “pilgrimage” visit to Russia

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has arrived in Moscow on an official visit after being invited by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

At Vnukovo airport the head of the Constantinople church was welcomed by his Russian counterpart, Patriarch Kirill, over one hundred Moscow priests and children from parochial schools.

Along with several other officials, the Russian minister of culture, Aleksandr Avdeyev, also attended the welcoming ceremony.

Patriarch Kirill expressed his hope that his counterpart’s visit would be "yet another bright chapter in the history of good relations between the two Churches.”

He added that the churches’ relations are not only “an exchange of brotherly visits” but also “concrete agreements that allow ours and all Orthodox churches to interact actively, including in solving problems that exist in inter-church relations today.”

Patriarch Bartholomew said he and his delegation arrived as pilgrims, to pray at churches in the capital and St. Petersburg. He will also visit the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius and the Valaam Monastery on Valaam Island.

Patriarch Bartholomew offered "the blessings from the Constantinople Church to the Russian Church, which is our sister and daughter". He added that the Constantinople church is “proud” of its Russian counterpart’s accomplishments.

The Constantinople patriarch is viewed as "the fist among equal" heads of the Orthodox Churches of the world. He resides in Istanbul, former city of Constantinople, which was the capital of the first Christian empire.