Alexy II congratulates the Georgian Patriarch on the 45th anniversary of his bishopric ministry

Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia congratulated Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia on the 45th anniversary of his bishopric ministry.

"On behalf of the Holy Synod and the entire plenitude of the Russian Orthodox Church please accept heartfelt congratulations on the forty-fifth anniversary of your bishopric consecration," Alexy II's message cited by the Moscow Patriarchate official website reads.

Patriarch Alexy asks God to grant Catholicos Ilia "help in carrying out heavy cross of the primatial ministry," and give the Georgian spiritual leader "good health, strength and longevity for the welfare of the Georgian Orthodox Church."

Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad greeted the Catholicos though lamented over recent aggravation of Russian-Georgian relations.

"It's hard to realize that fraternal peoples of Russia and Georgia, who centuries-long lived in peace, today are on various sides of the military conflict. We are urged to maintain objectivity and wisdom, take reasonable and responsible peacemaking efforts to settle the conflict instead of kindling it. We should not keep silent. We are called to fulfill apostolic appeal: "seek peace and pursue it," Metropolitan Kirill writes.

Addressing the Georgian primate, he expressed hope for "complete cessation of any fraternal hatred between Orthodox peoples of Russia and Georgia."