At its meeting on 25 December 2009, the Holy Synod made a number of decisions concerning the external work of the Russian Orthodox Church. Regarding the Patriarch Kirill's report on his visit to Azerbaijan for the 30th anniversary of the Caucasus Muslim Board Chairman Allahshuqur Pasha-zade's being in the capacity of sheikh-ul-Islam and his meeting there with Patriarch-Catholicos Iliya II of All Georgia, it was agreed that the meeting was important for strengthening and developing fraternal relations between the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches. As had been agreed with the head of the Georgian Church, the Holy Synod resolved that Archimandrite Roman (Lukin), Moscow diocese, be sent to Tbilisi for pastoral care of Russian-speaking believers and be charged with representing the position of the Russian Orthodox Church as needed. With regard to the talk that Patriarch Kirill had with Azerbaijani President Ildar Aliev, it was agreed to develop cooperation with the Azerbaijani authorities. Gratitude was expressed to Allahshuqur Pasha-zade for the warm welcome in Baku and importance of strengthening relations with the Muslim Board for the Caucasus was noted.
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received His Excellency Yves Leterne, the Prime Minister of Belgium, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on December 30, 2009.
Before his departure from the Phanar, the Belgian Prime Minister toured the Patriarchal Church of St. George and finally said: "It was very interesting to visit the roots of the Christian faith in this region of the world. The Orthodox Church is one of those roots, binding together the whole society."
The first ever Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Archbishop Innokenty of Korsun in Castelo Branco, Portugal, during his pastoral visit to Portugal on December 23-27. Surrounded by dense forests, this city has seen only Orthodox prayer services. Sometimes there were evangelizing talks organized through the efforts of the Moscow Patriarchate community in Lisbon. The city is located 200 km away from the Portuguese capital. There are many Orthodox Christians, economic immigrants from Eastern Europe, who just as the locals are engaged in sheep breeding, horticulture and cultivation of olives.
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Prot. No. 1237
By God's Grace
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, peace and mercy from the Savior Christ
Born in Bethlehem
Beloved concelebrants and blessed children in the Lord,
Heaven and earth have united
Through the birth of Christ.
Today, God has appeared on earth,
And man has ascended to heaven.